Published on August 08, 2022

A woman in bed with the flu.

Make sure your family members are vaccinated for influenza

Flu vaccination can be life-saving for children, older adults and people with chronic medical conditions. It is recommended for everyone 6 months and older because it’s the best way to decrease risk of illness caused by the influenza virus.

Flu vaccine is also recommended for people who are pregnant. Influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in people who are pregnant than in people of reproductive age who are not pregnant.

The high-dose flu vaccine is specially formulated for people 65 and older, as they are at higher risk for serious complications from influenza.

Generally, September and October are good times to get the flu vaccine.

"It’s best to get vaccinated before influenza is widespread in the community," said Catherine Way, MD, a family medicine physician with ProHealth Medical Group clinic. "Vaccination remains beneficial throughout the flu season for those who were not able to receive their flu vaccine earlier.”

Getting a seasonal flu shot helps you avoid:

  • Sickness and discomfort.
  • Serious illness.
  • Complications, including pneumonia.
  • Time away from work and school due to your own or a family member’s illness.
  • Missed activities including holidays, travel and time with family and friends.

Vaccination helps you protect yourself and helps keep you from spreading the disease to others. It helps prevent illness for your loved ones, others you come into contact with, your community, those who aren’t able to get the vaccine for medical reasons, and people with underlying medical conditions who are at higher risk of serious complications.

Flu season also means continuing to take safety precautions to keep from getting sick and spreading disease. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your arm when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the tissue and immediately wash or sanitize your hands.

Flu symptoms range from mild to life-threatening and can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms. It’s important to contact your provider if you experience symptoms that include:

•     Cough.

•     Fatigue.

•     Fever, chills or both.

•     Muscle or body aches.

•     Headache.

•     Runny or stuffy nose.

•     Sore throat.

•     Vomiting or diarrhea, especially in children.

Flu and common cold symptoms are also similar. Flu symptoms typically come on more abruptly than cold symptoms, and flu is more likely to cause aches, chills, cough, fatigue, fever and headaches.

Simple tests can help diagnose influenza, although your provider may not need to perform a test to provide a diagnosis and treatment options. Symptoms are sometimes treated with antiviral medication, which may shorten the length of illness and decrease symptoms. Your provider will determine whether antiviral medication is right for you.

"It is vitally important to stay home if you are ill, no matter how mild your illness may seem," Dr. Way said. "If you are employed, follow your employer’s policy with regard to reporting illness and staying away from the workplace."

In addition to flu vaccination, it is important to stay up to date on all age-appropriate vaccinations. Vaccination helps minimize the likelihood of developing a vaccine-preventable infection, including measles, bacterial meningitis, pneumococcal pneumonia and other diseases.

Immunization schedules ensure that all eligible children and adults are safely protected against diseases at appropriate ages. If any age-appropriate vaccinations were postponed during the pandemic, please contact your provider to develop a plan to update the vaccinations.

Be sure to include flu vaccination for you and your family in your plans for fall. If you have any questions about flu vaccination or other vaccines, contact your health care provider.

ProHealth Care offers flu vaccinations at various times and locations by appointment. Online scheduling and more information will be available at ProHealthCare.org/Flu in early September.