Flu Season

banner-image-flu-season-woman-0

Flu Season


Reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever due to COVID-19. Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) while flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the different between them based on symptoms. Testing for either virus may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.

The most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu shot each year - and this is not the year to skip it!  Even though there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, we can still hope to reduce the spread of the flu with the flu vaccine shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses for the 2020 - 2021 flu season. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.




Signs and Symptoms of Flu

People who have the flu often have some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches Fatigue (very tired)
  • 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.

For more information about flu symptoms, view the CDC's resources.

How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or possibly their nose.

High Risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications

The below health and age factors are known to increase a person's risk of getting serious complications from flu:

  • Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who have pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes

For more information about high risk individuals, view the CDC's resources.

Stay Healthy During Flu Season

  • Get a flu vaccine
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces



Get The Flu Shot

To find flu vaccines near you, visit VaccineFinder.




Additional Resources

Documents - Flu Resources
The Flu: A Guide for Parents
How do you know if you have a cold or the flu?