Every flu season is unique and influenza infection can affect people differently. Millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized, and thousands of people die from flu-related causes. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against the flu. Vaccination has many benefits including reducing the risk or severity of flu illnesses and hospitalizations, and even the risk of flu-related death in children.
Vaccination to prevent the flu is important for people who are at increased risk for severe illness and complications from the flu. People at high risk from the flu include those with chronic diseases.
Facts about the flu and flu vaccine:
What is Influenza (Flu)?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. Each year, as many as 45 million Americans get sick with flu and as many as 810,000 Americans are hospitalized with influenza.
Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Why is getting a flu shot especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Getting your flu shot this year protects you, protects your family, and helps make sure healthcare workers and hospitals in your community have resources to continue to treat COVID-19 patients.
It’s also possible to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, so it’s especially important for people with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious complications—and their caregivers—to get their flu shot.
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.