The flu, also known as season influenza, occurs between October and May and occurs at highest frequency during January and February.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a vaccination. Here are answers to common questions about the flu and the flu vaccine.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include:
- Fever greater than 100◦ F
- Headache and body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Diarrhea and vomiting (most common in younger children)
What are common flu-related complications
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions (diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, etc)
Who is at higher risk for flu-related complications?
People 65 and older, and those with the following medical conditions:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart disease, such as congestive heart disease and coronary artery disease
- Blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia
- Endocrine disorders such as diabetes
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- People who are obese
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, including stroke, epilepsy, and spinal cord injury
- Weakened immune system due to disease or medication, (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
Is there a special vaccine for those 65 and older?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this season, people 65 and older will have two flu shots available to choose from, a regular dose flu vaccine and a new flu vaccine with a higher dose. The high dose is associated with a stronger immune response to the vaccination. However, whether the stronger immune response results in greater protection in older adults is still not known. Speak to your doctor to learn which option is best for you.
How can flu be prevented?
- Get vaccinated! Talk to your healthcare provider to discuss vaccination options
- Maintain a healthy life style. Get adequate sleep, exercise, manage your stress, and eat nutritious foods.
- Avoid close contact with someone who has the flu.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Wash your hands
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and then discard it immediately
- Avoid contact with others as much as possible if you have a fever or other flu symptoms
- Keep surfaces clean with a household disinfectant. The virus can live on surfaces where they land for two to eight hours
When is a person contagious?
- The contagious period begins one day before symptoms begin and continues up to five to seven days after the onset of symptoms or until symptoms are gone, whichever is longer.
- People are most contagious when a fever is present.
Where can I get a vaccine?
Click here to find a flu shot location near you.