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Cold and flu season is upon us, especially as the colder weather has officially set in for many states. It’s around this time of the year that you’ll hear a lot about the importance of getting the flu vaccine. Many doctors and physicians recommend the shot, especially for elders. How effective is the flu vaccine? Is it worth getting? Can’t you still get sick even if you get the flu shot?

These are the questions that people ask year after year. After all, why should you be injected with another shot if you’re likely to get the flu virus anyway?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu vaccine reduces the odds of getting the flu by 70 to 90 percent (for healthy adults). There are many factors that impact the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, which is why there is such a wide range. These factors include age, when you get the flu vaccine and your general health. The flu shot is most effective in healthy adults who receive the immunization early in the fall. Also, the healthier a person is, the better. This is because the immune system is most responsive and builds up an immunity to the flu virus.

How Does the Flu Vaccine Work?

The idea behind the flu vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter, is that the body is exposed to the flu virus. The shot is a not a live vaccine, so it can’t make you sick, but your body still builds up immunity to the virus. Then, if you come into contact with the flu virus, your immune system recognizes it and is able to fight it off better. So, even if you do contract the flu virus, you should recover sooner and the symptoms should be less severe. This is important for elders who are dealing with underlying health conditions and can’t afford complications from the flu.

Also, it’s important to note that the flu vaccine only works on certain strains of flu, which are generally taken from the previous years. If there is a new strain, you may not be offered as much protection as with the strains that are included in the vaccine.

Bottom line: The flu vaccine DOES work, given the studies that have been done by trusted sources like the CDC. The choice to vaccinate is yours, but rest assured that this is one more way to protect your loved ones this cold and flu season.