Flu season is here and it’s time to get your influenza vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people in this country get sick with flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and, unfortunately, tens of thousands die. The best way to help avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated every year.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications. Information on who is at risk is available here.
For most people — who need only one dose of flu vaccine — September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
Some children need two doses of flu vaccine. It is recommended they get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second dose needs to be given at least four weeks after the first.
Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies and health departments. Find locations available in your area here. Your vaccine will help protect you throughout the 2022-2023 flu season.
FLU OR COVID? If you get sick, how do you know whether you have the flu or COVID-19?
There are more similarities between the two illnesses than differences, including their symptoms, making it difficult to know which virus you have. If you become sick, experts recommend that you call the doctor with your symptoms and begin to quarantine. A test may be necessary to determine which virus is making you ill.
Some of the differences are that COVID-19 spreads more easily and causes more serious illness in some people. If exposed to the coronavirus, it may take longer for you to show any symptoms and you can be contagious for a longer period of time.
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)
YOU CAN HELP STOP THE FLU FROM SPREADING
- 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 and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
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. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.