Help protect yourself and your loved ones. Get the flu shot.
The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for everyone age 6 months and older. The flu shot is your best defense against getting sick from the flu and reducing the spread of illness to family, friends and in your community. It’s also important to stay up to date with other vaccines like the new COVID-19 bivalent booster. Save a trip and get both during the same appointment.
Influenza, or the flu, can cause mild to severe illness and be very serious for some people. Common signs of the flu include:
- Fever and chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle and body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
- More information
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to commonly asked questions about the flu are as follows. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
What is influenza, or the flu?
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. These viruses infect the nose, throat and sometimes lungs through tiny respiratory droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. In some cases, a person might get the flu by touching something that has the flu virus on it, and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and for some people, can be very serious and life-threatening. The flu shot is one of the best lines of defense. Not only does it dramatically decrease your chance of getting the flu, if you do get it, your symptoms generally won’t be as severe.
What should I know about the flu this year?
Flu season always puts significant burden on the health of people in the U.S. and health care facilities, and results in thousands of hospitalizations per year. And this year, flu cases are expected to rise. Hospitals are already overwhelmed with COVID-19 and a surge in simultaneous flu cases has the potential to tax our already strained health care facilities. Getting the flu shot will help to minimize hospitalizations and help focus care on COVID-19.
Is it a cold, the flu or COVID-19?
While there are some overlapping symptoms of cold, flu and COVID-19, the viruses, infections and illnesses are different. Because it will be difficult to tell them apart, contact your provider to determine what care you may need, including testing. You can make an appointment with your provider or receive same-day care through Providence Urgent Care or ExpressCare.
- With a cold, you may feel pretty crummy, but the symptoms (e.g., cough, sore throat, fatigue, etc.) are mild in comparison to viruses like the flu and COVID-19. Rest and many over-the-counter medications can help relieve cold symptoms.
- The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness, with symptoms such as fever, cough and body aches. Most people with the flu don’t need medical care or medication. However, the flu can be very serious and require medical attention. Contact your doctor if your symptoms worsen, are prolonged, or if you’re at high risk of flu-related complications. Testing may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
- COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness. COVID-19 can have varying degrees of symptoms, from none to severe. Symptoms may include fever or chills, severe cough, sore throat and the loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 can cause medical complications, especially in higher-risk groups, and can result in hospitalization and death. If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, learn more about options for screening and receiving care.
Will the flu shot protect me against COVID-19?
No, the flu shot won’t protect you against COVID-19. However, there are many benefits to getting the flu shot, especially during a time when the cold, flu and COVID-19 are circulating simultaneously.
What are the benefits of the flu shot?
- The flu shot is safe and effective in helping to reduce flu-related illness and the risk of serious flu complications.
- Getting a flu shot helps decrease your risk of getting sick and the risk to those around you.
- At a time when cold, flu and COVID-19 are spreading simultaneously, reducing the number of flu cases helps health care providers conserve resources for those who are very sick.
- COVID-19 affects many systems and organs in the body, but especially the lungs. If you develop a cough or respiratory issues from a cold or the flu, it can put extra strain on your breathing and lung capacity.
Who should get the flu shot?
Most people older than six months of age should get a flu shot annually. It’s especially important for those at high risk of developing serious flu complications, including people 65 and older, women who are or will become pregnant, young children and those who are immunosuppressed. Ask your doctor what flu prevention options are best for you, based on your unique health needs.
When should I get the flu shot?
It’s recommended to get your flu shot by the end of October. The flu season in the U.S. typically spikes in October and peaks by February. Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter, but can circulate year-round.
Can I get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine together?
Yes, it’s safe and effective to get both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. Check with your primary care, ExpressCare and urgent care locations to verify vaccine availability or visit your local pharmacy.
When should I see a doctor?
Because there are some overlapping symptoms of cold, flu and COVID-19, it will be difficult to tell them apart. Contact your provider to determine what care you may need, including testing. You may need to be seen by a provider virtually or in-person, or get on prescription medication.
If you’re experiencing a health emergency, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency department.
How is the flu treated?
Most people who get sick with the flu don’t need medical care or medication. Getting extra rest, drinking plenty of fluids and trying over-the-counter medications can help relieve flu symptoms. For some people, including those who are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, prescription medications can help lessen symptoms, shorten the duration of illness and prevent serious flu-related health problems. Ask your doctor what treatment is best for you.