The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine, each year. This recommendation has been in place since Feb. 24, 2010, when the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people. While everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year, it’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People younger than five years, especially those younger than two, and people 65 years and older.
- People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.
- Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
- Household contacts and caregivers of infants younger than six months old.
- Health care personnel.
- A complete list is available at People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
Flu vaccines are available through LCHD for children and adults. Medicaid, Medicare and many other insurance plans are accepted and cover the full cost of the vaccination. Vaccine is provided at no cost to uninsured children through the Vaccines for Children Program. Call (740) 349-6535 for an appointment or to find a walk-in clinic in your area. Clinic dates are also posted on our calendar.
Signs and Symptoms of Flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can also help prevent the spread of many viruses by practicing proven disease prevention methods. This includes:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and then wash your hands with soap as soon as you are able.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This is how germs are spread.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without using fever-reducing medicine.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Call your doctor or health care provider if you have questions about illness.