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Flu Season: Get Your Flu Vaccine Now

Seasonal Flu

It’s that time of year when influenza starts to spread and The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports people should get their flu vaccine now. The American Red Cross also has steps people can follow to help halt the spread of the flu.

The number of people sick with the flu is low right now, but the CDC has received reports of early outbreaks in the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and 41 states.

It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine protection to set in, so now is the perfect time to get vaccinated. According to the CDC, flu causes millions of illnesses and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations every year. Everyone six months of age and older should get a yearly flu vaccine to protect against getting sick

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will protect you throughout the 2016-2017 flu season.

GIVING BLOOD AND THE FLU As flu season begins, the Red Cross wants to ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients by encouraging healthy donors to take the time to roll up a sleeve and give. Donors who are healthy and feeling well are asked to schedule donation appointments and invite others to do the same. Find out more here.

WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO GET SICK Several groups of people are at a higher risk for developing the flu. These include young children, adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, nursing home residents and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, chronic lung disease and others.

RED CROSS STEPS TO PREVENT FLU SPREADING In addition to getting vaccinated, the Red Cross has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu. They include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • DO I HAVE THE FLU? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children).
  • Fever with a rash (children).
  • No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children).
  • More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App.

    Test your knowledge of flu preparedness.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.