Get Your Flu Shot to Protect Those Around You, Especially the Vulnerable

The fall season is not just for football in Alabama; it is the time to schedule and receive your flu shot. A yearly influenza vaccine, ideally given before the end of October, is the most important action football fans and everyone else can take to protect against flu viruses.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and other statewide health organizations, including the Alabama Hospital Association and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, are encouraging Alabamians to get their flu shots by the end of October to enjoy the maximum protection for the flu season which extends to early spring.

Flu vaccine is especially important for adults ages 65 and older, children under 5, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease.

While flu seasons vary in severity, during most seasons the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease, accounting for the majority of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Changes in the immune system with age mean that older adults often do not have as strong an immune response to vaccination as younger, healthy people.

New this year, the CDC has adopted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation to preferentially recommend the use of specific flu vaccines for adults 65 years and older. These include these higher-dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines: Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent, and Fluad Quadrivalent flu vaccines. If these vaccines are not available, however, people over 65 should receive a standard-dose flu vaccine instead.

Vaccination also is especially important for others including healthcare workers and people who live with or care for those at higher risk to keep from spreading flu to them. This is needed for people who work in long-term care facilities, which are home to many of the people most vulnerable to flu.

Pregnant women, who are more susceptible to influenza severe enough to cause hospitalization, can be vaccinated during any trimester of pregnancy. Parental vaccination also can help protect an infant after birth because antibodies are passed to a developing baby during pregnancy. Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants need to be vaccinated to help protect them. Doctors recommend children get a flu vaccine every year in the fall, starting at 6 months of age. Don’t be concerned about scheduling flu shots along with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters; flu shots can be given at the same visit.

In addition to vaccination, the CDC recommends everyone follow these preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Take everyday preventive actions that are recommended to reduce the spread of flu.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
  • For flu, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Fever should be gone without the need to use a fever-reducing medicine.
  • If you get flu, take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

The CDC website contains a wealth of useful guidance about flu vaccine. Go to

Getting vaccinated for influenza goes a long way in protecting yourself and the people around you. Please contact your healthcare provider, pharmacy, or county health department for flu clinic schedules and get vaccinated. Both flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinic availability are easily found by entering a zip code at

Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H.
State Health Officer