Influenza (Flu) Information
Why should I get a flu vaccine?
- The flu vaccine is the best defense against the flu. Every year, the vaccine protects against prevalent seasonal flu viruses.
- Flu season is roughly October through March. Different strains of the flu virus circulate each year, so it's important to get a flu shot each year for your best protection.
- See below for further information about the flu vaccine. For where and when to get a flu vaccine, visit our Flu Vaccines page.
Seasonal Influenza - a serious respiratory disease
Facts About Flu
The flu is not the same as the common cold or an intestinal illness
- Colds usually are associated with an upper respiratory infection. They last about a week and are accompanied by a cough and a running nose. People with a cold can function in their everyday roles.
- However, seasonal flu (influenza or "the flu") is a serious, contagious, respiratory disease.
- It can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Well known for its fever, body aches and cough, the flu is caused by a virus. It does not respond to antibiotics. People with the flu are generally not able to function for several days to two weeks.
- The flu affects people differently based on their body’s ability to fight infection. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu and spread it to friends, co-workers, and family.
- There are anti-viral medications that your health care provider can prescribe to reduce the severity and duration of the flu. This is especially important for those at risk for complications. These prescribed medications must be taken within 1-2 days of symptoms.
Getting vaccinated is the single best way to protect yourself and your family
- People who get vaccinated against seasonal flu can expect to have immunity within two weeks. The protection you get from the vaccine will continue throughout the flu season.
- Florida’s flu season usually peaks in January/February. It can continue into March, but may last later. However, the last two flu seasons peaked in December. Therefore, it is important to get vaccinated early in the flu season.
- DOH-Sarasota uses multiple systems to determine how flu is impacting our community, including hospital information, lab results and school health data.
Who should get vaccinated?
- Everyone six months old and older should be vaccinated, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- Typically, children under age 5 and adults 65 years of age and older are the two groups most likely to suffer complications from the flu.
- Pregnant women can suffer a miscarriage if they get the flu. Getting a flu shot is completely safe anytime during pregnancy and is strongly recommended by the CDC.
- Individuals (regardless of age) with certain health conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune system and other health issues) are at high risk for flu-related complications.
- Since babies under 6 months are too young to get a flu shot, all members of their households and close contacts should get vaccinated. This includes child care providers and grandparents. This protects the infants by preventing those around them from getting ill.
The Flu Vaccine
Flu vaccines for children
- Children younger than 9 years of age who receive a flu vaccination for the first time will need two doses of vaccine given at least four weeks apart for full protection.
Flu vaccine option
- DOH-Sarasota has a few doses of quadrivalent egg-free flu vaccine available for people who have severe egg allergies.
Fluzone High-Dose Flu Vaccine - Recommended for people 65 years and over
As people age, their immune system’s function tends to decrease. This makes older adults not only more susceptible to infections, but also less responsive to the standard-dose flu vaccination. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine for adults 65 years of age and older. Talk with your doctor about getting the Fluzone High Dose Vaccine, which provides a higher dose of vaccine and may provide greater immunity. This is a payable benefit through Medicare Part B. For additional information, contact your health care provider.
More information on Flu Vaccines
Info for the current influenza season from the CDC:
- Flu Shot (Inactivated Influenza Vaccine) - Information Statement (VIS) - CDC
(Available in large print and other languages)
More Flu Prevention Tips
- Wash your hands often with soap or sanitizer.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue, not your bare hand.
- Stay at home when you are sick. Keep sick children home. Stay home until free from fever at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
Pneumonia is a potentially life-threatening illness that may arise as a complication resulting from a flu infection. Ask your health care provider if one of the two pneumonia vaccines (Pneumovax or Prevnar) is right for you.