Each year, seasonal flu infections cause a variety of symptoms that start suddenly. The flu typically makes you feel rotten for 3 to 5 days. However, it can be dangerous for young children, older adults, and others with certain health conditions. To protect yourself and your community, you need a flu shot every year.
Last year, we saw very little influenza. Indeed, many of our traditional respiratory virus seemed absent. This is arguably due to more people receiving the flu vaccine as well as the social distancing, masking, and other community efforts we were making.
“Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be acting quite as vigilant this year,” said Dr. Tamara Sheffield Intermountain Healthcare Medical Director for Preventive Medicine. “We are again faced with a flu season as well as another respiratory virus that has very similar symptoms, COVID-19. If a person shows symptoms like fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches or headache, they are going to need to be tested for both COVID and influenza.”
Dr. Sheffield said that many of the resources used in hospitals to care for patients with COVID could be overwhelmed if influenza cases start to fill those beds as well. As hospital capacity is scarce, Intermountain is strongly encouraging everyone receive both the influenza and COVID vaccines.
Who can be vaccinated for influenza?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone ages 6 months and older to receive an annual flu vaccination.
What is the best vaccine for me?
There are a variety of options this year when it comes to your flu vaccine:
- Quadrivalent regular dose injectable (or “shot”)
- Intranasal or nasal spray (“FluMist” is a brand name)
- High Dose quadrivalent or adjuvanted for people age 65+ years
The best way to find the vaccine that is right for you is to consult with your doctor or pharmacist.
What Else Can I do to Stop the Spread of Disease?
The same prevention methods work for flu or COVID:
- Get a seasonal flu vaccine. Everyone in the family (over the age of 6 months) should get a vaccine, and so should anyone who cares for your baby.
- Wear a mask, being sure it covers your nose and mouth snuggly.
- Wash your hands often and well, and have children do the same.
- If you’re sick, stay home from school or work.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, if possible.
- Cover your sneezes and coughs.
- Use a tissue once, then throw it away and wash your hands.
Signs and Symptoms
Seasonal flu symptoms usually come on fast, causing chills, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, dry cough, and sore throat. Occasionally, seasonal flu will cause a runny or stuffy nose or, in young children, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How is Influenza Spread?
The flu virus prefers air travel, catching rides on the tiny droplets that fly out when someone sneezes, coughs, sings, or talks. However, it can also stick around on surfaces for a while. If you touch something that was recently contaminated and then touch your mouth or nose, you can get infected, too. It is important to note you can spread the virus before you show signs of illness.
Where can I find vaccine?
All Intermountain Healthcare Community Pharmacies offer flu vaccine. For locations near you, go to intermountainhealthcare.org/flu.