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Get the Flu Shot and Fight Flu

It’s that time of year again—flu season. Influenza viruses are detected year-round, but are most common between October and May, typically peaking around December and January.

Getting the annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide protection against the virus, which is why everyone six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine by the end of October before flu activity increases. Each year’s seasonal flu vaccine contains protection from the three to four influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during that year’s flu season. Because the flu shot isn’t 100 percent effective, it’s also important to follow measures to reduce the spread of infection.

Take preventive steps. The influenza virus often spreads from person to person by droplets made when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. So, in addition to getting the flu shot, you can help prevent the spread of flu by avoiding close contact with others who are sick, and if you are sick, limit your contact with others. You should also cover coughs and sneezes; wash your hands often with soap and water; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.

Watch for symptoms. Flu symptoms may include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. It is possible to be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. If you have the flu, you should stay home—except when seeking medical care—for at least 24 hours after the fever breaks without fever-reducing medications. If you have the flu without a fever, you should stay home at least 4-5 days following the onset of symptoms.

See a doctor. Most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and often don’t need medical care. However, if you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away. Antiviral drugs taken within the first 48 hours of symptom onset may reduce the length of your illness and help prevent more serious problems. Those who are high-risk include young children, people 65 and older, those who are pregnant and those with certain medical conditions.

Ready for a flu shot? Schedule an appointment today at a UTMB Health primary care clinic near you. If you develop flu-like symptoms, UTMB Health’s urgent care clinics will be ready to serve you.

Signs and Symptoms Cold Flu
Symptom onsetGradualAbrupt
ChillsUncommonFairly common
Fatigue, weaknessSometimesUsual
Chest discomfort, coughMild to moderateCommon
Stuffy noseCommonSometimes
Sore throatCommonSometimes

Tips sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Download Cold vs. Flu Fact Sheet