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Flu Information

Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious complications of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as elderly, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.

The upcoming season's flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season.

Vaccination

Flu can be very serious for people of all ages, even for healthy young adults, which is why it is recommended that everyone older than 6 months of age receive a yearly flu vaccination.

Flu vaccines can be found at a number of locations:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the flu vaccine give you the flu?

 The flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. The viruses in the vaccine are either killed (flu shot) or weakened (nasal spray vaccine), which means they cannot cause infection.

Are the "stomach flu" and influenza the same thing?

 No, they are not.  The "stomach flu" is a disease known as viral gastroenteritis and is not caused by influenza viruses. The flu, cause by influenza viruses, is a respiratory (lung) disease, not a stomach or intestinal disease. The main symptoms of the flu are fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults.

Is December or later too late to get the flu vaccine?

 CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available and that vaccination continue into December, January and beyond. Influenza activity usually peaks in February most years, but disease can occur as late as May.

I got the flu vaccine last year, do I need to get it again?

Flu viruses change constantly which requires a new flu vaccine to be produced each year. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on worldwide monitoring of influenza viruses.  The flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season.

Is hand washing the best way to prevent the spread of the flu?

 CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. However, preventative actions like covering your cough and washing your hands often are important everyday steps that can help stop the spread of germs.

How is the flu virus spread?

 Flu virus is mainly spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes.

People get the flu all the time.  It's not that serious, right?

 Flu is a serious contagious disease. Each year in the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and 36,000 people die from flu.

I hate shots, is there another way I can get the vaccine?

 Flu vaccine is also available as a nasal spray (brand name FluMist®). The nasal spray flu vaccine is an option for "healthy" people, aged 2-49, who are not pregnant.

"Healthy" indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.

Can I spread the flu if I don't have any symptoms?

 Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Links

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