Influenza (Flu) Shots

Don't confuse COVID-19 with the flu

What is the Flu?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Those at highest risk of serious flu complications include older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions. The best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
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Why get the flu shot?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

Who should get the flu shot?

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older with rare exception. Those at highest risk of serious flu complications include older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions should also get the flu shot. Yearly flu vaccine are recommended because a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu. Additionally, flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine composition is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Signs & Symptoms

Flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue (tiredness)

  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

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*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

 

Know the difference: Flu vs. COVID-19

Preventing the Flu

1. Take time to get the flu vaccine. The single best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated every year.

  • Everyone aged 6 months and older, without contraindications, is recommended to get an annual flu vaccine by the end of October.
  • Some young children aged 6 months through 8 years will need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. Find out more
  • Every year, flu vaccines prevent millions of illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations and deaths. They reduce the burden on the health care system and conserve medical resources, which during the 2020-2021 flu season and COVID-19 pandemic, will be more important than ever.
  • Vaccination of people at high risk for flu complications is especially important to lower their risk of severe flu illness and death.
  • It is essential that health care workers and those who work or live with people at higher risk are vaccinated.

2. Take every day preventative actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Avoiding close contact with other people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits including getting plenty of sleep, clean and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious foods.

3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

  • Antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness, if you get the flu.
  • Antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. Find out more.
  • Higher risk individuals should contact their health care provider as soon as flu symptoms develop to be treated with antivirals.
Flu Prevention: get a flu shot, sanitize surfaces, wash hands, stay home if sick

CDC Resources