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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
  • People who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days

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

If you are experiencing cold symptoms, or were ill within the past 14 days, regardless of how mild, please stay at home, complete the OMS Coronavirus Questionnaire (, and await clearance by OMS before coming to the workplace. Reschedule your appointment once you are cleared to return to work. 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*. The CDC recommends that pregnant people in any trimester or those who might become pregnant during the flu season be vaccinated to protect both the pregnant parent and the baby from flu. *Note, pregnant women should not receive the Flumist intranasal live, attenuated flu vaccine because it is a live vaccine. This option is not being offered through the “Foil the Flu Program”.

Talk with your obstetrician first if you have any questions or concerns. For more information:

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

The decision to get the flu vaccine has many downstream impacts. It not only protects you from flu, it protects your patients, your coworkers, and your family. Since NIH has many patients, employees, and contractors who have immunocompromising conditions, it is critically important that the risk of transmission of flu is minimized in the Clinical Center. Vaccination is the most effective way to do that.

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 visitthe 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 the workplace.

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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

Will the NIH offer both Covid-19 vaccines and flu vaccines at the same time?

NIH is currently offering only flu vaccines, beginning September 26. 

Where will the vaccine be offered?

This year, the NIH main campus will offer vaccines in Building 10, CRC 7th Floor Atrium, East Side. Please do not show up any earlier than 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment. 

In addition, flu clinics will be offered at various off-campus and satellite campus locations. See schedule here

Remember, a surgical mask (ASTM level 3) is required for all participants at all flu clinic sites. If you do not have one, staff will provide you with one at check-in.

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.

How do I schedule my vaccine appointment?

Please visit the Foil the Flu registration site: 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.

If you are not able to access the registration website, please contact OMS at 301-496-4411 or by email at

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. 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. 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.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, you should not come to the flu clinic and should reschedule your appointment for a later date.

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. 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

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

Following immunization, your FollowMyHealth® portal account will be updated with proof of vaccination. If you do not have a FollowMyHealth® account, please call the Portal Support line at 855-644-6445 or email to gain access.

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 four viruses that research suggests will be most common.


All seasonal flu vaccines available for the 2022-2023 season are quadrivalent. The composition of the 2022-2023 U.S. influenza vaccines includes updates to the influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B/Victoria-lineage viral components. These vaccines also include 2 unchanged strains: influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 (specific strain lineage varies according to egg-based or cell culture-based vaccines but is unchanged from the previous year's vaccine strains) and influenza B/Yamagata lineage viral components. High-dose vaccines contain 3-4 times the amount of viral antigen in each dose compared with standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccines. New this year, for patients aged 65 years and older, CDC recommends any one of the following vaccines over the others available: Fluzone® High-Dose (4 times the standard amount of viral antigen), Flublok® (3 times the standard amount of viral antigen), or Fluad® (standard amount of viral antigen, created using MF59 adjuvant, not carried by NIH). If none of these are available when attempting to vaccinate, any age-appropriate vaccine should be used in these patients instead of delaying vaccination.


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


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® is licensed for use in patients 6 months of age and older, and Flublok® is licensed for use in patients 18 years and older; these vaccines are both egg-free vaccines. Fluzone® High-Dose, is licensed for use in patients 65 years and older and is manufactured in eggs. Information is available for those with a severe allergy to eggs on the CDC website ( For the specific composition of the NIH vaccines offered this year, please refer to the prescribing information on the intranet (


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 intranasal live, attenuated flu vaccine (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 vaccines used in this year's influenza immunization campaign  do not contain thimerosal or any other preservatives.