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Foil the Flu FAQs


Who is eligible to receive the vaccine?

All NIH employees and contractors with a valid, NIH-issued ID are eligible for the vaccine.

Where will the vaccine be offered?

View flu vaccination 2019 schedule for locations, dates and times.

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

Yes. Any worker with an NIH-issued ID may receive the vaccine at any time listed on the schedule.

What is the best time of day to get the vaccine?

The clinic is busiest on the first day and each day at the Clinical Center during the first hour of the morning and the first hour after lunch. Avoiding these times will ensure the quickest service.

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

There are clinics offered specifically for those who work nights and weekends. Clinic hours are scheduled on early mornings, evenings and Saturdays, at the CRC 7th Floor Atrium. See flu vaccination 2019 schedule for locations, dates and times.

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.

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 line. The vaccine information sheet (VIS) will be available to review while you wait in line. Next, you will be directed to a booth where a nurse will seat you, scan your badge, ask you a series of questions and then administer the vaccine. 

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Where can I get confirmation after receiving the vaccine?

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

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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

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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.

What flu vaccinations will be offered at NIH this year?

The regular-dose vaccine used in this year's influenza immunization campaign, Flucelvax®, contains minimal traces of egg protein because it is produced in cell culture rather than eggs. The high-dose vaccine, Fluzone®, is manufactured in eggs. Information about egg allergy and influenza vaccines is available here: is an egg free vaccine available for those with a severe allergy to eggs.

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 workers or influenza researchers), but are not permitted to have contact with Clinical Center patients for 7 days because of the risk of transmitting the vaccine strain to immunocompromised patients. The CDC discourages the use of LAIV by people who care for immunocompromised individuals.

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

Following immunization, the Occupational Medical Service will send you an email with a questionnaire and certificate of immunization. Please save an electronic or printed copy of your immunization record. If you do not receive an email, contact OMS (301-496-4411 or

Who should not get the vaccine?

There are some people who should not be immunized without first consulting a physician. 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)

Does the vaccine contain thimerosal preservative?

No. The vaccine does not contain preservative.

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

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 the flu. That’s why it’s better to get immunized early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way.

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

A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is adjusted each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change.

Also, 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.

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


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

The NIH is offering the quadrivalent influenza vaccine again this year. The 2019-2020 quadrivalent influenza vaccine is made from the following four viruses:

  • A/Idaho/07/2018 (an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus); 
  • A/Indiana/08/2018 (an A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus); 
  • B/Iowa/06/2017 (a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus); 
  • B/Singapore/INFTT-16-0610/2016 (a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus)

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 can provide some cross protection against other influenza viruses to lessen the severity of illness.

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

Yes. As long as your symptoms are mild and you have no fever.

If I am pregnant, can I get the Flu shot?

Yes. Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, age-appropriate influenza vaccine. Talk with your obstetrician first if you have any questions or concerns.

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 for the flu or formally decline. Patient-contact staff must receive the seasonal influenza vaccine unless they provide OMS with documentation of a medical contraindication from a non-NIH health-care provider or a written religious exemption. Call OMS for instructions at (301) 496-4411.


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.