Are Flu Shots Really Effective in Helping Prevent the Seasonal Flu?

See what the CDC and other sources say about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine


Millions of people get influenza (flu) every year. While it may be common and mild for some, the seasonal flu is a potentially serious disease and can lead to hospitalization, and in severe cases, even death (according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)).1 That’s why it’s recommended to get a flu vaccine every year to help protect you and your loved ones from exposure.1

So let’s get to it. Do flu shots really work?

The quick answer is yes, flu shots do work most of the time. The vaccine of course doesn’t protect everyone from catching influenza, but overall, studies show moderate percentages of effectiveness. In fact the flu shot has been shown to reduce risk of having to go to the doctor with the flu by 40 to 60 percent.1 That’s significant, and with healthcare systems already strained due to the overwhelming response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to consider getting the flu shot this season.

Determining which flu viruses will be the most prevalent each flu season is challenging, but experts do their best to predict the flu vaccine to potential circulating viruses each season as stated by the CDC.1 Even in years where the vaccine hasn’t been matched with the most prevalent strain of the flu, it still can reduce the severity of illness in people who are vaccinated.

And if you’re concerned that the flu shot might actually give you the flu, that’s not possible, according to the CDC.
1 You might experience mild discomfort, soreness, or a low-grade fever after getting the shot. These symptoms should only last one to two days and are far less severe than contracting the flu.

Who should get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends the vaccination to everyone six months of age or older, even healthy people.2 It’s especially important for people who are at high-risk of serious complications to receive the flu shot. These groups could include; adults 65 years or older, young children under 2 (but older than 6 months) and pregnant women.

When to get the flu shot?

In order to maximize protection, it’s recommended that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October or as soon as they become available, according to specialists at Intermountain Healthcare.3 The flu season can last as late as March, so you can still get the flu vaccine later in the season. No matter when you get your flu shot, it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season. 

Find where to get a flu shot at no cost to you

If you have a medical insurance plan through EMI Health, the flu vaccine is covered at 100% when you go to an in-network provider. This means you can get a flu shot for everyone in your family that is covered by the medical plan for free! Visit our Provider Search tool to find an in-network provider where you can get your flu shot this season.

If you are an employer who has partnered with EMI Health for your medical benefits, reach out to your EMI Health Account Manager to setup an onsite flu shot clinic for your employees and their families. You provide the location, and we’ll take care of the rest!



  1. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine |
  2. Preventive Steps |
  3. Getting to Know the Flu Shot |
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