Frequently Asked Questions

Flu Vaccination FAQ

A collection of frequently asked questions related to flu and routine vaccination to help businesses keep employees healthy and safe amid COVID-19. Browse questions below or submit your own.

Flu Vaccination FAQ

Why is routine vaccination important?

How do vaccinations benefit the economy?

According to a report from the Journal of Market Access and Health Policy, if a population is appropriately vaccinated, society could avoid:

  • $1.3 trillion lost in wages and decreased productivity.
  • 732,000 premature deaths.
  • 21 million hospitalizations.
  • $295 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and medical care.

What is influenza (the flu) and what symptoms are associated with it?

  • Influenza, widely known to as the flu, is a viral infection that attacks the body’s respiratory system – nose, throat, and lungsFlu viruses travel through droplets in the air when someone infected coughs, sneezes, or talks. 
  • Common symptoms include fever, muscle aches, chills and sweats, headache, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, eye pain, and vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children). 
  • Many of these symptoms align with the common cold. Seek medical care if you are at risk for complications or if you have trouble breathing, chest pain, or dizziness

Is the flu vaccine safe?

  • Scientific studies and vaccine monitoring systems have proven that flu vaccines are safe. 
  • Hundreds of millions of Americans have been safely receiving flu vaccines for more than 50 years. 
  • The safety of flu vaccines is continuously monitored by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

Is the flu vaccine effective?

  • The flu vaccine’s effectiveness is studied each year.
  • Flu vaccination reduces the risk of illness between 40-60% among the overall population during seasons when the vaccine is well-matched with the circulating influenza viruses. 

Who should get a flu vaccine?

  • The CDC recommends everyone receive a flu shot each year with the exception of children under six months old
  • Vaccination is especially important for individuals at a high risk for developing serious complications from contracting flu viruses. High-risk groups include adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, young children, and cancer patients 

When is the best time to get the flu vaccine? 

  • COVID-19 and the flu virus are both expected to spread during fall and winter months, so it is critical you and your family get a flu shot
  • September and October are optimal times to get vaccinated. 
  • It is recommended to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible; howeverthe flu vaccine can be administered later in the season if needed. Talk with your health care provider about vaccination options. 
  • There is no need for a second booster shot among adults; the single dose will last through the duration of flu season.

Why is it especially important to get the flu vaccine this year?

Getting a flu shot this year is even more important than years past. With COVID-19 surging in the middle of flu season, co-infection is a looming concern. The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent the flu, and if you do contract flu, it decreases the symptoms. People who skip the flu shot often site one of three reasons – all proven to be false.

    • “The flu shot causes the flu:” The vaccine won’t cause the flu but you may experience a runny nose or mild fever as your body builds antibodies against the virus. It takes two weeks for your body to build the antibodies.
    • “I never get the flu:” Even if you don’t have flu symptoms, you can still contract the virus and spread it to others.
    • “I got vaccinated last year and still got the flu:” The flu virus mutates all of the time, so it is possible to get infected with a strand not protected by the vaccine. However, flu shots do drastically reduce you risk and minimize how hard the flu will hit you If you do get sick.

Bethany Thayer, MS, RDN, Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health System


Where can I receive a flu vaccine? Is it covered by insurance?

  • Flu shots are available at health systems and medical clinics across Southeast Michigan. Many community centers and retail pharmacies are also administering the vaccine. Contact these organizations to see if they are accepting walk-ins or if an appointment must be scheduled in advance. 
  • The CDC’s Vaccine Finder can help you find a convenient location
  • Many vaccines are covered by insurance plans under preventative care. Check with your insurance provider for additional information about vaccination coverage. 

When does flu season begin and end? When does it peak?

  • Flu viruses most commonly circulate in the fall and winter months. While the timing and durations can vary, flu cases usually increase in October and peak between December and February. 
  • Flu activity can last as late as May.

How can I encourage employees to get vaccinated while working remotely?

  • While remote operations do restrict exposure to flu viruses, remote workers will likely visit their local grocery store, get a haircut, or have a doctor’s appointment at some point. 
  • Focus the conversation on the civic duty of flu vaccination: Getting a flu shot is a simple task that can have a major impact on the health and well-being of the community.
  • Those at high risk for developing serious complications if they become ill rely on healthier individuals to do their part and get vaccinated.

What are the differences between cold/flu and COVID-19 symptoms? When should someone seek medical care?

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 overlap and distinguishing between the two can be difficult. Common symptoms of both COVID-19 and the flu virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore threat, and headache. Flu viruses appear to cause less severe symptoms than those of COVID-19. If you experience any of these symptoms, take the following steps: 

    • Check your local health system’s website to find an online screening tool to help determine if you are at risk for COVID-19. 
    • Consult with your doctor by phone or check with insurance provider about virtual care options.
      For your safety and the safety of others, it is not recommended you visit a hospital, ER, walk-in clinic, or urgent care unannounced. It is best to call ahead.  
    • Call 911 if your symptoms worsen – high fever (102-103 degrees) and/or rapid breathing.
    • Flu infection rates are highest among children (approximately 2030% annually).

Why is it especially important for my child to receive the flu vaccine?

  • Children are major spreaders of the flu because they carry and spread the virus for longer periods of time than adults. 
  • Children younger than years old, especially those younger than 2, are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Complications for this age group include pneumonia, dehydration, brain dysfunction, sinus problems, ear infections, and in rare cases, death.  

Does the flu vaccine increase risk of contracting COVID-19?

There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of contracting COVID-19. While the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, getting it does not increase your likelihood of contracting the disease.

How can I keep my immunity strong to combat flu season?

The best way to give your immune system a chance is to get the flu shot. This encourages your body to produce antibodies that can help you fight the virus. Other ways to maintain a healthy immune system include eating a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits, limit or avoid alcohol and get adequate sleep every day.

Bethany Thayer, MS, RDN, Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health System 


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