Check out the Flu Health Map to find a flu vaccine spot close to you!
Influenza, or “flu,” is a serious contagious illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu spreads mainly from person to person by droplets released when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching something with flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Anyone can get the flu, but it can be far more dangerous for young children, older people, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems.
The most common symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and extreme fatigue.
Influenza outbreaks often begin as early as October and end as late as May, but they generally peak during January or February.
Prevent and Protect
There are several things you can do to lower your chances of getting the flu or passing it on to someone else:
- Get a flu shot! The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu. The flu shot is safe and cannot give you the flu. The most likely side effects are soreness where the shot was given and a low fever for 1–2 days. Nearly everyone over 6 months of age can get it, and it’s often covered by insurance. Find a nearby vaccine provider.
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands well and often. Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Cover coughs and sneezes using a tissue or your arm.
- Stay home and limit contact with others when you have the flu or flu-like symptoms.
- Contact your health care provider as soon as you think you have the flu. Early treatment may shorten the time you experience symptoms and lessen the severity of symptoms.