Flu Facts

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. 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 shot each year.
  • Three strains of influenza are expected this flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new flu shot will cover them all, including last year’s H1N1 flu.
  • It takes about two weeks for a flu shot to work. The sooner you get a flu shot, the sooner you’re protected.
  • The vaccine should cover you through the entire flu season, which typically ends in May.
Get Vaccinated
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. There are two types of flu vaccines:
  • The flu shot. It’s an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus). The shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
  • The nasal spray flu vaccine. It’s a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. It is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.
Healthy Tips to Avoid the Flu
  • Get a flu shot. Prevention really is the best medicine.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Proper hand washing technique includes washing with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
  • If you get the flu, stay home from work, school, and social gatherings. In this way you will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
Stay Informed
  • A source for updated information on the flu is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hotline at: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). This line is available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.