Get the Facts about the Flu

What is the best way to guard against the Flu? – Health experts say that having a flu vaccine is the most effective way to keep from getting the disease. The annual flu vaccine is usually available starting in September, but you can get it anytime during the flu season.

Who should get a Flu vaccine? – Everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is changed each year to guard against the 3-4 strains of flu that health experts expect to be the most common that season.

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Can I get sick from the Flu vaccine? – You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine because it is made from “inactivated” viruses. The vaccine may cause some mild side effects that people mistake for the flu, including a low fever and some body aches.

Where can I get the Flu vaccine? – Flu vaccines are available at the following locations: doctor’s office, schools, drugstores, retail and grocery stores, pediatrician’s office, health department, workplace, medical centers, clinics and community centers.

What else can I do to protect myself and others? – Clean your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Regularly wipe down places where germs collect, such as doorknobs, phones and bathroom surfaces. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

How do I know if I have the Flu? – You likely will have a cough, body aches and pains, a headache and a fever. Sometimes, you will have sneezing, a sore throat, and a stuffy nose. You’ll also feel highly fatigued.

What should I do if I’m sick? – Stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids. Cover coughs and sneezes. Try to avoid close contact with others. Talk with your doctor about medications that can shorten you bout of the flu.

When should I see a doctor? – Seek medical advice if you are at risk for serious complications. See the doctor if you feel faint, have a fever of 102F or higher, chills, difficult or painful breathing, or a severe sore throat.

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How long should someone with the flu stay home? – Don’t go out until 24 hours after your fever is over except for medical care and necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medications.

What about the Stomach Flu? – Diarrhea and feeling sick to the stomach are sometimes related to the flu, especially in children. However, most often these symptoms are caused by other viruses or by bacteria. The flu is a disease of the respiratory system, not a stomach or intestinal disease.

Flu Shot or Nasal Spray? – Being vaccinated against the flu does not necessarily mean getting poked by a needle. Healthy people ages 2 through 49 who are not pregnant can choose to have a nasal spray vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control does not recommend one type of vaccination over the other. Check with your doctor about whether the nasal spray is right for you. 

Where to learn more: www.cdc.gov/flu or www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flu