Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Should one get flu shots?"

ZocdocAnswersShould one get flu shots?


Is it a good idea to get flu shots? I'm young and I'm pretty healthy, and one friend of mine who's actually a doctor swears that it's smarter to just wash your hands a lot and stay healthy. Plus, don't the shots only work against the most common strains of 10 billion flu viruses? What's the cost benefit here?


The recommendations of whether or not you should get a flu shot are constantly changing. Plus there are varying opinions among health care professionals as to whether to vaccinate all patients, or only those who are susceptible or have specific risk factors. Right now, we highly recommend that the following people get the flu vaccine: children from ages 6 months to two years, anyone with a chronic disease especially lung diseases and heart diseases, anyone with HIV, all patients living in close quarters (prisoners), health care workers, and all patients over the age of 65. However, many primary care physicians are now recommending that everyone get the vaccine to reduce the spread of the virus from person to person. The vaccine isn't perfect but it does work greatly reducing your risk of getting the flu this season. Despite there being many flu strains, only certain ones get circulated in any given year. I suggest you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Ask for his or her opinion on this issue. Your specific situation including your past medical history, your job, who you work with, who you live with, and your personal preferences will all be considered in the decision. If you are unsure, then just get the vaccine. It is more likely to do you good than harm. Good luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.