Who Should Get A Flu Shot
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot each year if they do not have an increased risk for a serious adverse reaction. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu or people who live with or care for those who are at high risk for flu complications.
How Can You Prevent The Flu
The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. It makes it less likely that you will get the flu. It also reduces your chances of being hospitalized or dying if you do get sick with the flu.
In addition to getting your flu vaccine, you can help stop the spread of flu by:
- Washing your hands
- Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Staying home when you are sick
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school
When To See Your Gp
Consider visiting your GP if:
- you’re 65 years of age or over
- you’re pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system for example because you’re having chemotherapy or have HIV
- you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood
- your symptoms are getting worse over time or haven’t improved after a week
In these situations, you may need medication to treat or prevent complications of flu. Your GP may recommend taking antiviral medicine to reduce your symptoms and help you recover more quickly.
You May Like: Flu And Shingles Vaccine Together
How Do I Manage Symptoms Of The Flu
Many people can manage the symptoms of flu at home with over-the-counter medications and other therapies, including:
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Drinking fluids like water or broth to help prevent dehydration.
- Applying heat packs or hot water bottles can help with aching muscles.
- Taking acetaminophen or NSAIDs can help lower your fever and relieve head and body aches.
- Using spray or oral decongestants like phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine can help with a runny or stuffy nose.
- Taking cough suppressants like dextromethorphan can help calm a nagging cough.
- Using expectorants like guaifenesin make it easier to clear mucus out of your lungs.
Not everyone should take certain OTCs, so check with your provider before you use them. Its also a good idea to make sure certain medications are okay to use together or with supplements. Dont give aspirin to children under the age of 16 unless their provider says its okay.
Find out why the flu is dangerous and the best ways to protect your family.
How Long Is The Flu Contagious And How Long Should I Stay Home
P.S. The flu is contagious prior to your symptoms starting.
Flu cases are starting to creep up across the country. With that, its understandable to have questions, including How long is the flu contagious?
Its a good idea to at least be aware of some flu basics since public health experts say we could be in for a nasty flu season.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned in an interview with NBC News earlier this month that this flu season could be intense. Not everybody got flu vaccinated last year, and many people did not get the flu. So that makes us ripe to have potentially a severe flu season, she said.
Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, predicts that this flu season will be more reminiscent of pre-COVID influenza seasons. Meaning, cases will be higher than weve seen recently. The actual timing of flu season has been thrown off due to the pandemic, he points out. It is still hard to tell when it will begin in earnest and if its seasonality will be alteredlast season it went into June, he notes.
Flu season has slowly gotten worse since 2020, when cases were practically non-existent due to pandemic lockdown measure. But there were an estimated 9 million flu illnesses, 4 million flu-related medical visits, 100,000 flu-related hospitalizations, and 5,000 flu deaths last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Read Also: How Young Can You Get A Flu Shot
What About Influenza Complications
In some cases of the flu, severe illness and complications can develop. This can result in hospitalisation and even death.
The flu can also make some existing medical conditions worse.
In Victoria, flu vaccination is free for people with a higher risk of severe complications associated with the flu:
- children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months and over
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- people 65 years and over
- people aged 6 months and older with medical conditions putting them at higher risk of severe flu and its complications:
- cardiac disease
- children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
If you think you have the flu, its important to get tested early on so that antiviral medications are most effective if your provider prescribes them. Contact a healthcare provider right away if:
- You have flu symptoms and an underlying condition that puts you at higher risk for severe illness.
- Your symptoms dont start to improve after seven to 10 days or if you have a fever lasting longer than three days.
- Youre pregnant and have a fever or other flu symptoms.
When should I go to ER?
Go to the ER or seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of severe illness, including:
- Difficulty breathing.
Also Check: Florida Blue Flu Shot Coverage
Preventing The Flu After Exposure
Although there are various products and remedies that may claim to help prevent illness once you’ve been exposed to the flu, none of them have proven to be effective. Your best bet to prevent the flu is to get your annual flu vaccine. Although it’s not 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, it gives you a much better chance of avoiding the illness than anything else.
If you are exposed to someone with the flu, avoid close contact with the person and wash your hands frequently.
- Vitamin C: Although vitamin C is widely used and has many benefits, there is no scientific proof that it will help you avoid an illness such as the flu or a cold.
- Humidifiers: Evidence suggests that viruses such as the cold and flu spread more easily in cold, dry air. This is one of the reasons that they’re more common during the winter. Running a humidifier in your home during the winter can help keep your nasal passages moist. And while there’s no guarantee that this will prevent you from getting sick, it can’t hurt .
- Antiviral medications: If you’re at high risk for complications from the flu and you know you were exposed to it, talk to your healthcare provider about taking antiviral medications. It can help prevent influenza in some people and will reduce the severity of the symptoms in those who do get it.
What Are The Side Effects Of Flu Vaccines
The flu vaccine is safe and cannot give you the flu. Most people have no problems after getting a flu vaccine.
When side effects occur, they are generally mild and go away on their own. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, or swelling at the site where you got the shot. Some people also get a headache, fever, nausea, or muscle aches. These side effects start shortly after getting the vaccine and can last up to two days. They typically do not get in the way of daily activities.
If you have allergies, talk with a health care provider about your options for flu vaccines. Even people with mild egg allergies can safely get most flu vaccines. Egg-free flu vaccines are also available. You should not get vaccinated if you have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past.
How Is The Flu Treated
Most kids with flu get better at home. Make sure your child:
- drinks lots of liquids to prevent dehydration
- gets plenty of sleep and takes it easy
- takes acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches. Don’t give kids or teens aspirin because of its link to Reye syndrome.
- wears layers that are easy to remove. Kids might feel cold one minute and hot the next.
Children with the flu should stay home from school and childcare until they feel better. They should go back only when they haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine. Some kids need to stay home longer. Ask the doctor what’s best for your child.
Doctors may prescribe antiviral medicine for a very ill child or kids are at risk for more serious symptoms. The medicine can shorten the flu by 12 days. It works best if children start taking it within 48 hours of the start of the flu. If a doctor prescribes antiviral medicine for your child, ask about any possible side effects. Doctors won’t prescribe antibiotics for the flu. Antibiotics work only against bacteria, not viruses.
Is It Flu Or A Cold
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have flu or just a cold, as the symptoms can be quite similar. The main differences are:
- usually include fever and aching muscles
- make you feel too unwell to continue your usual activities
- come on gradually
- mainly affect your nose and throat
- are fairly mild, so you can still get around and are usually well enough to go to work
Read Also: Target Minute Clinic Flu Shot
Flu Or Food Poisoning
There are many types of viruses, and some can affect the digestive system. People sometimes call this stomach flu. This illness is different from influenza, which is a respiratory disease.
The most common cause of stomach flu is the norovirus, which enters the body through contaminated food or drink. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Food poisoning causes similar symptoms.
Is it a stomach virus or food poisoning? Find out here.
How Long Is The Flu Contagious
When you have the flu , you’re most contagious from 24 hours before symptoms begin through the first three to five days of the illness. Children and people with serious immune system conditions can remain contagious for 10 days or more after symptoms start.
Antiviral medication like Tamiflu may shorten the contagious period, but it’s uncertain by how much.
Don’t Miss: How Much Is Flu Vaccine At Cvs
When Are People With Flu Contagious
Flu viruses can be detected in most infected persons beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. However, infants and people with weakened immune systems who are infected with flu viruses may be contagious for longer than seven days.
Symptoms typically begin about two days after flu viruses infect a persons respiratory tract. It is theoretically possible that before symptoms begin, an infected person can spread flu viruses to their close contacts. Some people can be infected with flu viruses and have no symptoms but may still be able to spread the virus to their close contacts.
Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
- Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
- CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance on other federal or private website.
We take your privacy seriously. You can review and change the way we collect information below.
What Problems Can Happen
Some people are more likely to have problems when they get the flu, including:
- kids up to age 5, especially babies
- people with a weak immune system from medicines or illnesses or illnesses
- people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes
- kids or teens who take aspirin regularly
- people who are very obese
- women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, just had a baby, or are breastfeeding
- people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
- people 65 years and older
If they get the flu, their illness can be more serious. They can develop pneumonia or get even sicker from other kinds of infections . If this happens, many will need medical care in the hospital. So it’s important for them not to be near anyone who has the flu or flu-like symptoms.
People who have flu symptoms should keep their distance from anyone who might get very sick if they catch the flu.
You May Like: How Long After Getting The Flu Are You Contagious
When To See A Healthcare Provider
If, based on the symptoms, you believe you may have the flu, call your healthcare provider right away. Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu can lessen the severity and duration of the flu if started within the first 48 hours of symptom onset.
Your healthcare provider may want you to come in to confirm the influenza virus with a rapid in-office test or may prescribe an antiviral solely based on your symptoms and flu activity in your area.
You should also contact your healthcare provider if symptoms continue to worsen after a week, or if you develop a fever or productive cough after you have started to feel better. This could indicate a secondary infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Other symptoms that require a call to your healthcare provider include severe muscle pain, weakness, or unsteadiness, and any worsening of chronic medical conditions.
What Can You Do If You Get The Flu
If you get the flu, there are steps you can take to feel better. Act fast! First, talk with a health care provider. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, so you may need to get tested for an accurate diagnosis. This will also help determine which medications might make you feel better.
There are prescription drugs, called antivirals, that are used to treat people with the flu. If you take them within 48 hours after flu symptoms begin, these drugs can make you feel better more quickly. Antivirals can also help reduce your risk of complications from flu. Antibiotics do not help you recover from the flu. However, they are sometimes prescribed to treat a secondary infection if it is caused by bacteria. Bacteria are a different type of germ than viruses.
If you are sick, rest and like juice and water, but not alcohol. Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can bring down your fever and might help with the aches and pains.
It is important not to smoke if you are sick with the flu. It is a respiratory illness that can infect your lungs as well as your nasal passages. These same areas are also affected by smoking.
Monitor your symptoms and talk with a health care provider if you start feeling worse. For example, contact your provider right away if you:
Read Also: Is Cvs Giving Flu Shots
How Much Does Getting A Flu Vaccine Cost
Most people can get a flu vaccine for little to no out-of-pocket cost. Medicare and most private health insurance plans will cover the cost of your flu vaccine. However, some insurance plans require that you receive your vaccine at a specific location. Check with your insurance company. If you do not have health insurance, contact your local or state health department.
What Medications Treat The Flu
Antiviral drugs for influenza include:
- Oseltamivir phosphate . You take oseltamivir by mouth as a pill or a liquid. You usually take it for several days.
- Zanamivir . You breathe zanamivir in through your mouth with an inhaler. You usually have to take it for several days. Zanamivir isnt recommended for people with breathing issues, like asthma or COPD.
- Peramivir . Your provider gives you peramivir directly into your veins using an IV. You usually only need one dose of peramivir.
- Baloxavir marboxil . You take baloxavir marboxil by mouth as a pill or a liquid. You only take one dose. Baloxavir isnt recommended if youre pregnant, breastfeeding/chestfeeding, hospitalized or have certain medical conditions.
Tell your provider about any health conditions you have before starting an antiviral medication.
Side effects of treatment
Each antiviral medication has different side effects, but common ones include nausea and diarrhea. Inhaled medications can cause spasms that tighten and narrow your airways .
You May Like: Does Advil Cold And Flu Make You Drowsy
How Does Flu Spread
The flu virus is in the wet spray that comes out of the nose and mouth of someone who coughs or sneezes. If you are close enough to a person with the flu when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus and get sick. Flu symptoms start 1 – 4 days after a person breathes in the virus.
Flu is spread easily from person to person. The virus can also live for a short time on things you touch like doorknobs, phones and toys. After you touch these objects, you can catch the virus when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Adults with flu can spread it from about one day before symptoms appear to about one week after. Children can spread the flu even longer after they get sick.