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Foil the Flu FAQs

Who Can Get The Vaccine

COVID-19 and The Flu

Vaccine Clinic Schedule and Location

What Happens at The Flu Clinic

The Vaccines


Who is eligible to receive the vaccine?

All NIH employees and contractors with a valid, NIH-issued ID are eligible to receive their flu shot through Foil the Flu program free of charge.

Who should not get the vaccine?

There are some people who should not be immunized without first consulting a medical provider. These include:

  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination
  • People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to be immunized)
  • People with symptoms of influenza and/or COVID-19

If I have a cold, can I get the flu vaccine?

If you are experiencing cold symptoms, regardless of how mild, please stay at home, complete the OMS Coronavirus Questionnaire (, and await clearance by OMS before coming to campus. If you have an appointment and are not feeling well, or were ill within the past 14 days, please do not attend the clinic and reschedule your appointment. Symptoms to suggest a new illness may include unusual fatigue, fever, cough, change or loss of taste or smell, sore throat, muscle/body aches, congestion/runny nose, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or headaches.

If I am pregnant, can I get the flu vaccine?

Yes. Pregnant women may receive any recommended licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine. Pregnant women should not receive the Flumist intranasal live, attenuated flu vaccine because it is a live vaccine. Talk with your obstetrician first if you have any questions or concerns.

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Why is the flu vaccine mandatory for NIH workers with patient contact?

The Medical Executive Committee approved a policy in 2008 that requires all NIH workers with patient contact to be immunized against influenza or formally decline. Staff with face-to-face patient contact must receive the seasonal influenza vaccine annually unless they provide OMS with documentation of a medical contraindication from a non-NIH healthcare provider or a written religious exemption. Please visit the Clinical Center Hospital Epidemiology website for more information .

Will the flu vaccine protect me from COVID-19?

Getting your flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19 or increase your risk of getting COVID-19. Getting your flu vaccine will reduce the risk of becoming ill and being hospitalized from influenza. Getting a flu vaccine can prevent severe disease and save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.

If I get sick, how will I know if it is flu or COVID-19?

This winter, SARS-CoV-2 will likely continue to circulate along with seasonal flu and other respiratory viruses. It may be difficult to tell the cause of illness solely based on symptoms because people with influenza and COVID-19 may have very similar symptoms such as fever, body aches, cough, congestion, runny nose and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Flu and COVID-19 can be mild in some people or severe in others; both may result in pneumonia. Testing is the best way to distinguish who may be sickened by influenza, COVID-19, or other respiratory viral infections. Staff with symptoms should stay home, contact their personal healthcare provider, and complete the OMS Coronavirus Questionnaire ( to be evaluated for their illness before returning to campus.

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Is it possible to be have influenza and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes. It is possible to be infected with more than one virus, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza or other respiratory viruses, at the same time. Bacterial pneumonia may complicate viral respiratory infections. By getting your flu vaccine, you will reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes of influenza infection.

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If I become ill after getting the flu vaccine, what should I do?

Side effects of the flu shot may include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Some may develop headache, fever, nausea, and/or muscle aches typically lasting 1-2 days. If you do not feel well after getting the flu vaccine, please contact the COVID-19 Call Center at 301-480-8990. A Call Center consultant will instruct you on what steps you should take. Serious reactions to the flu shot such as trouble breathing usually develop within minutes or hours after vaccination; in this case, you should get help immediately and call 911. If you develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19, please complete the OMS Coronavirus Questionnaire (

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Where can I get more information about flu and COVID-19?

Additional information about flu and COVID-19 is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at

Where will the vaccine be offered?

The NIH Main Campus flu clinic will be located on the south side of Building 10, in the B1 Cafeteria. The clinic is accessible only through the doors on the same level that lead to the outside courtyard. You cannot access the clinic from Building 10 North or South Entrances (Level 1), or any underground parking levels. For directions to the flu clinic, view map. Remember, a facial covering is always mandatory for all participants at all flu clinic sites, and in all NIH buildings and spaces. Flu clinics will also be offered at various off-campus and satellite campus locations.

Can I come on any day to get my flu vaccine?

No. The vaccine will be given by appointment only. There will be no walk-ins. To register for a clinic appointment, please visit

How do I schedule my vaccine appointment?

Please visit the Foil the Flu registration site to schedule your vaccine clinic appointment. To access the Nexus platform please open your browser and enter and log in using your PIV card. Employees must be on the NIH network. Google Chrome is the preferred browser on both Windows and MacOS. Firefox and Safari are also supported. Internet Explorer is not supported.

I work on weekends and nights. Are there any convenient times for me to get the flu vaccine at NIH?

There are appointments offered specifically for those who work nights and weekends. Clinic hours are scheduled on early mornings, evenings and Saturdays. Unlike in previous years, the vaccine will be given by appointment only. Visit the registration site early to secure an appointment that fits your schedule 

Where can I get the vaccine if I cannot get it here at NIH?

Local health departments, grocery stores, pharmacies and urgent care clinics often provide flu immunization programs. See the Foil the Flu Community Resources Area for more information.

How am I protected from COVID-19 while getting my flu vaccine?

The NIH is working hard to keep all staff safe while they are on campus, including when they visit the flu clinic. To maintain physical distancing and avoid queues, vaccines will be given by appointment only. Posted signs will direct traffic in one direction. The clinic will be separated from hospital operations. Flu clinic staff will be screened each day, wear medical masks, perform hand hygiene before and after every shot given, and disinfect the environment after every vaccine appointment is completed. You also play an important role in safety. You must wear a face covering at all times, maintain physical distancing, and follow signage and staff directions while in the clinic. Hand sanitizer will be available for you to use.

What should I wear to make it easier to get the flu vaccine?

Employees intending to receive a flu vaccine must wear clothing that does not restrict access to the upper arm. Changing areas will not be available. In addition, this year you must wear a face covering at all times during your flu clinic visit.


What should I expect when I arrive at the flu clinic?

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a flu clinic coordinator and directed to the appointment check-in desk. The vaccine information sheet (VIS) will be available to review while you wait. Next, you will be directed to a booth where you may be seated and a nurse will scan your badge, ask you a series of questions and then administer the vaccine. You must exit the flu clinic according to posted signage. For example, you must exit the B1 Cafeteria flu clinic to the courtyard and cannot access the interior of Building 10 through the cafeteria. If you feel ill you may not attend the clinic. If you have signs of a febrile or respiratory illness you may be asked to leave without receiving a flu shot and reschedule you visit after being screened for your symptoms.

Confirmation is e-mailed to your NIH e-mail account after you receive the vaccine. If you do not receive an e-mail, please contact OMS at (301) 496-4411 or

Where can I provide feedback about the flu clinic?

We are always looking for ways to improve! Please send all suggestions, questions and/or comments to

Why do I need to receive the flu vaccine every year?

A flu vaccine is needed every year because influenza viruses are constantly changing. The vaccine is adjusted each year to keep up with the influenza viruses as they change.

In addition, multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or immunization) declines over time.

Being immunized each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout influenza season.

What is the composition of this year's seasonal influenza vaccine?

The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating influenza viruses. Flu vaccines protect against three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine) that research suggests will be most common.

The composition of the 2020–21 U.S. influenza vaccines includes updates to the influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B/Victoria lineage components. These updated components will be included in both trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional influenza B virus component from the B/Yamagata lineage, which is unchanged from that included in quadrivalent influenza vaccines used during the 2019–20 season. High-dose vaccines contains 4 times the amount of viral antigen in each dose compared with standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccines.

For the specific composition of the NIH vaccines offered this year, please refer to the prescribing information


Can the vaccine provide protection against other strains of influenza not contained in this year's vaccine?

While the vaccine cannot prevent you from acquiring other strains of influenza, antibodies made in response to the immunization may provide some cross protection against other influenza viruses to lessen the severity of illness.

Am I protected right away when I get the flu vaccine?

No. It takes about two weeks after immunization for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting influenza infection. That is why it is better to be immunized early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way.

What flu vaccinations will be offered at NIH this year?

All vaccines used in this year's influenza immunization campaign are quadrivalent. Flucelvax® and Flublok® are egg-free vaccines. The high-dose vaccine, Fluzone®, is manufactured in eggs. Information is available for those with a severe allergy to eggs For the specific composition of the NIH vaccines offered this year, please refer to the prescribing information


Will the program offer the high-dose flu vaccine for workers who are 65 or older?

Yes. Please notify the nurse that you would like to receive the high-dose vaccine.

Will the program offer the intranasal live, attenuated flu vaccine (FluMist) to workers this year?

No. FluMist (LAIV) is not offered at NIH. Employees who receive LAIV elsewhere and provide documentation are considered compliant with any requirement to be immunized against influenza (e.g., healthcare personnel or influenza researchers), but are not permitted to have contact with Clinical Center patients for 7 days after receipt because of the theoretical risk of transmitting the vaccine strain to immunocompromised patients. The CDC discourages the use of LAIV by people who care for immunocompromised individuals.

Does the vaccine contain thimerosal preservative?

No. The vaccine does not contain preservative.


How do I get documentation that I received the flu vaccine?

Following immunization, you will receive an email entitled “NIH Flu Program Support” to your NIH e-mail account with instructions on how to obtain a certificate of immunization (“Compliance Document”). You will need to sign in on an NIH computer to gain access with your PIV card. If you don’t see the email confirmation from Health Rx Support (CIT) please check your Junk Email folder. Please save an electronic or printed copy of your immunization record. If you do not receive an email, contact OMS (301-496-4411 or