Influenza, commonly called “the flu” is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). Influenza is a leading cause of illness in the United States and can lead to serious medical conditions, hospitalization or even death. Flu seasons are unpredictable. They can begin early in the fall and last late into the spring. Influenza is extremely contagious and spreads very easily in communities. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is by getting an annual flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. It is especially important for individuals at high-risk for having serious flu-related complications such as:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk including healthcare workers, and caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Where to Get Flu Vaccine?
This year's flu vaccine is expected to arrive soon. Please check back for listings of hospitals and community based flu vaccination clinics. You may also, call your doctor's office, clinic or pharmacy directly to check on the flu vaccine availability.
*As additional flu clinics are scheduled this information will be updated.
The most common symptoms of the flu are:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.
- Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Additional Flu Information