What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented by immunization. It is not the same as the "stomach flu." Flu is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.

What are the symptoms of flu?

Influenza symptoms come on quickly in the form of fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches. These symptoms can be severe and put you in bed for several days.

How is the flu different from a cold?

A cold generally stays up in the head while the flu brings body aches, fever, and extreme fatigue. A person with a cold will usually keep up his or her normal activities, while someone with the flu will often feel too sick to do so.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Yes. This year's flu vaccine is made in the same way as past flu vaccines. Flu vaccines have an excellent safety record – with an average of 100 million doses used in the U.S. each year.

Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

No. Some people do get mild flu-like symptoms for a short time after being vaccinated, but this is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine and giving you protection. It is not the flu. Also, because there are many cold viruses circulating in the fall, it is possible that a person could be infected and become ill at the same time they receive the flu vaccine.

When should I get vaccinated?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. For best protection, flu vaccine is usually given in the fall before flu season starts. But you can get it anytime during flu season.

What if you think you have the flu?

- Stay home if you are ill.
- Rest and drink lots of fluids.
- Antibiotics will not help a person recover from the flu, because flu is caused by a virus, not by bacteria.
- Children often need help keeping their fever under control. Follow your child’s doctor’s instructions.

-Take your child to the doctor or the emergency room if he or she:

Breathes rapidly or with difficulty
Has bluish skin color
Does not drink enough and becomes dehydrated
Does not wake up or interact with others
Is so irritable that he or she doesn't want to be held, or
Gets better only to become sick again, with fever and a more severe cough

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