Flu Extras

Thomas Kerkering, M.D., chief of Infectious Disease at Carilion Clinic sorts flu fact from fiction when it comes to flu symptoms.

Key Facts to Know about Flu

The influenza or flu virus is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by several flu viruses. It spreads when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks, causing droplets containing their germs to land in someone else’s mouth or nose. The virus can also live on surfaces and spread when someone touches it and then touches their own mouth, eyes or nose. It is estimated that between 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year.

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms typically last one to two weeks.

Children younger than 5 years old, adults of 65 years or older, people with certain chronic health conditions and pregnant women are at high risk for getting sick with the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people infected with the flu may be able to spread it to others starting one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after being sick. Children and people with weakened immune systems, however, can have the virus present in their body for longer periods of time and are more prone to being contagious even after being sick. 

While it typically peaks in January or February, flu season starts as early as October. The best protection against the flu is the annual flu vaccination. Because it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to start protecting against the flu, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The vaccination is recommended for everyone six months and older. Caregivers are always advised to get the vaccination, but especially when around children who are under six months or children who have health conditions.

It is also important to remember that the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, the CDC recommends these routine preventive steps to help stop or slow the spread of infection during flu season:  
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after using it.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you or someone in your household is sick, limit contact with others as much as possible, and stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects like bedside tables, bathroom surfaces, kitchen counters and toys.
Flu shots are available by appointment through your Carilion Clinic primary care provider or you can walk in to any VelocityCare location or Carilion Clinic Pharmacy during business hours. Protect yourself and your family against the flu and get your flu shot today.
 
  Flu Shot Fluzone High Dose Egg-Free
  Approved for people 6 months through 64 years of age Approved for people 65 years of age and older While supplies last
Carilion Clinic Pediatrics
Established patients only
   
Carilion Clinic Family and Community Medicine
Established patients only
 
VelocityCare
Walk in during business hours

$25 self-pay

$40 self-pay
 
Carilion Clinic Pharmacy
Walk in during business hours

$25 self-pay

$40 self-pay

$38 self-pay
*Carilion Clinic recommends children ages 9 and under receive a vaccination from their pediatrician.
References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases