Flu and Cold Prevention

Preventing Seasonal Flu: Get Vaccinated

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year. Everyone six months of age and older need a flu vaccine. Flu vaccinations are usually available beginning in early fall throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May.

Take Action to Stay Healthy

The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness, spread person to person through sneezing and coughing, and touching contaminated surfaces. If you catch the flu, you can help keep it from spreading by following these precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Throw used tissues away immediately
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Stay away from others

If you work, stay in touch with your employer’s occupational health department or your doctor and follow guidelines for returning to work.

What to Do if You or a Family Member Gets Sick

  1. Understand flu symptoms which include fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  2. Try these treatment options:
    • As directed by a doctor, manage fever with medicines like Tylenol or Motrin
    • Drink plenty of fluids, water, or juice.
    • Get extra rest/stay home when you are sick
    • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  3. If you are at high risk of flu complications, seek care at the first signs of flu symptoms. Groups at high risk of flu complications include: Children younger than 5, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with blood disorders (including sickle cell disease), chronic lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes; heart disease; liver, kidney, neurological and neuromuscular disorders; or weakened immune systems.
  4. Make a personal plan with your doctor now.
  5. Know where to go for care – your doctors’ offices and/or area urgent care centers are a first step to medical care.
  6. Know warning signs for urgent medical care. If flu symptoms last longer than 5 days, contact your doctor. If you or your child has any of the following potentially life-threatening symptoms, seek medical care immediately: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, severe or persistent vomiting, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, or flu symptoms that improve and return with fever or cough.

For more information about seasonal flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm