There are very few common illnesses that can make you feel quite as bad as the flu. Luckily, flu season occurs only once a year. But even one flu illness can be devastating for some patients.
“Flu” here means illness caused by Influenza virus types A and B. This is the respiratory flu, not the gastrointestinal flu. Classic symptoms of Influenza A or B are: aches, chills, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, pain behind the eyes, fever, tiredness, weakness, dizziness and decreased appetite. It seems your whole body is sick. The symptoms of respiratory flu typically last 10 to 14 days, however, some may be ill for up to three weeks.
Influenza is mainly a clinical diagnosis. If there is flu in the community, and you present with the above symptoms, chances are good that you have the flu. There is a diagnostic test that can be performed. By obtaining some mucus from the nose, done by a nasal swab, a lab test can determine rather quickly whether or not you have Influenza.
If Influenza is diagnosed early in the illness, an antiviral medication can be prescribed that may shorten the course of the illness and lessen the severity of the symptoms. If started in the first 24 to 48 hours of illness, antivirals may decrease the duration of fever and other symptoms. The sooner these are started, the better the chance of improvement. Antivirals might also be prescribed to prevent Influenza from spreading to an entire household. Fever reducers, pain relievers, decongestants, cough suppressants, rest and plenty of fluids will get you through the worst until you or your child feels well again.
What about prevention?
- Washing your hands regularly is a great start!
- Yearly flu shots are the most important step in protecting yourself against the flu. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever.
When going to get a flu vaccine, practice everyday preventive actions
and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for running essential errands
. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or health department if they are following CDC’s vaccination pandemic guidance
. Any vaccination location following CDC’s guidance should be a safe place for you to get a flu vaccine.
September and October are good times to get vaccinated. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.
Anyone may receive their annual flu vaccine at any Prevea health centers. You do not need to go to the Prevea health center where your primary care provider is located. We strongly recommend that patients schedule an appointment.
, call your provider’s office or call (888) 277-3832
Please check your insurance coverage prior to your appointment as we will bill your insurance company.
Flu Questions and Answers
Q: Does the flu vaccine give me the flu?
A: The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. The flu vaccine is made with flu vaccine viruses that have been “inactivated” and therefore do not cause infection. The most common side effects from the flu vaccine are soreness, tenderness and redness as the injection site. Low-grade fever, headache, or muscle aches may occur, but should subside in one to two days.
Q: Is it better to get the actual flu instead of the flu vaccine?
A: No. The flu can be a serious disease, especially for young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease or diabetes.
Q: Do I need the flu vaccine every year?
A: Yes. It is recommended that everyone six months and older, that do not have risk factors to receiving the flu vaccine, should receive it annually. The immunity protection acquired from last season’s flu vaccine can decline. Receiving a flu vaccine annually better protects you for the upcoming flu season.
Q: Who should get a yearly flu vaccine?
A: The CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Flu shots are especially important for young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease.
Vaccination of people at high risk
is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. Many people at higher risk from flu also seem to be at higher risk from COVID-19.
Q: Can I still get the flu even if I’ve had my flu vaccine?
A: There are many reasons why an individual can still develop flu or cold symptoms even after receiving the vaccine. These include:
- The person experiencing illness may have been exposed to influenza viruses prior to receiving their flu vaccine or during the two weeks following injection while the body was still developing immunity.
- There are many viruses in our environment besides flu that a person can acquire and develop symptoms similar to the flu.
- They acquired viruses that do not match the viruses selected to make the vaccine.