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. Flu shots can keep you from getting sick or sicker from the flu virus no matter how healthy you may feel. Flu shots can be life saving for children, during pregnancy, or if you have heart or lung disease.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. Vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV. Monoclonal antibody products are available to protect infants and young children from severe RSV.
No, the flu shot won’t protect you against COVID-19. For COVID-19 you will need a separate covid shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) identified the following benefits.
- Flu shots can be lifesaving for children.
- Flu shots can keep you from getting sick with flu or reduce the severity of your flu-related illness.
- Flu shots can decrease your risk of having to be admitted to the hospital because of the flu.
- Flu shots can decrease your risk of worsening conditions such as heart disease, lung disease.
- Flu shots during pregnancy protect pregnant women and infants during the first few months of life.
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.
For most people, the best times to get your flu shot is September and October. However, the flu shot is recommended as long as the flu poses a threat, which could be as late as May or June.
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.
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 or ExpressCare locations to verify vaccine availability, or visit your local pharmacy.
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.
Nasal spray flu vaccine is an option for patients ages 2 years thru 49. It is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions. Discuss your options with your provider, nurse, or pharmacist at the time when you are ready to get your flu shot.
The high dose Flu shots are indicated for patients who are 65 years of age or older.
The Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices recommends use of any flu vaccine (egg based or non-egg based) as long as it is appropriate for the patient’s age and health status. For the 2023-2024 flu season, there are two egg-free flu shots available depending on your age. Flublok® is an egg-free flu shot available for patients 18 years and older. Flucelvax® is approved for patients ages 6 months and older.