Influenza, or the “flu”, easily spreads person to person. The flu is caused by influenza viruses, which attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it highly important to reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like the flu, this fall and winter.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, and is the most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Receiving the flu vaccine is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.
Signs & Symptoms of the Flu
The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold and can come on suddenly. Symptoms of the flu include:
- 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.
For more information about flu symptoms, see Flu Symptoms & Complications (CDC).
Para obtener más información sobre los síntomas de la gripe, consulte Síntomas y complicaciones de la gripe (CDC).
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that the flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with the virus cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
High Risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications
The below health and age factors are known to increase a person's risk of getting serious complications from flu:
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who have pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes
For more information about high risk individuals and the flu, see People at Higher Risk of Flu Complications (CDC).
Para obtener más información sobre las personas de alto riesgo y la gripe, consulte Personas con mayor riesgo de presentar complicaciones a causa de la influenza (CDC).
Take Action to Prevent the Flu
- Get a flu vaccine and get it early!
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information about healthy habits to help protect against the flu, see Healthy Habits to Help Protect Against Flu (CDC).
Para obtener más información sobre hábitos saludables para ayudar a protegerse contra la gripe, consulte Hábitos saludables para protegerse de la influenza (CDC).
Don't Wait, Vaccinate!
Where can I get a flu vaccine?
- Call your health care provider or local pharmacy to learn if they offer flu vaccines.
- Information for Parents
- Information for Schools and Child Care Providers
- Information for Healthcare Workers
- Information for Businesses & Employers
- 2020-2021 Flu Season Summary (CDC)
- Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines (CDC)
- Information for Health Professionals (CDC)
- Flu Information for Parents with Young Children (CDC)
- Information for Schools & Childcare Providers (CDC)
- Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Resources for Health Professionals (CDC)
- Flu Resources for Business (CDC)
- Resumen de la temporada de influenza (CDC)
- Los conceptos erróneos sobre la gripe estacional y las vacunas contra la influenza (CDC)
- Información para los profesionales de la salud (CDC)
- Información sobre la influenza para padres de niños pequeños (CDC)
- Información para escuelas y proveedores de cuidado infantil (CDC)
- Recursos de vacunación contra la influenza estacional para profesionales de la salud (CDC)
- Recursos sobre la influenza para empresas (CDC)