FAQ – Flu

What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?

Like a cold, the flu is highly contagious but, unlike a cold, it is a serious illness that can have life-threatening complications. To see the differences, compare the list of symptoms for each illness.

How can I protect myself from the flu?

The best way to prevent contracting the Flu is to get a Flu shot (Influenza vaccine). The influenza virus that causes the Flu is easily spread from person to person. Most people who get the Flu will be sick for a few weeks but others may need to be hospitalized as a result. In the worst cases, the Flu can even lead to death.

In short:

  • Get your seasonal Flu
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with sick people

Who should get immunized for the flu?

It is recommended that anybody over 6 months of age get a seasonal flu shot, but you should seriously consider getting a flu shot if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Children aged 6 months to 19 years
  • Pregnant women
  • Persons with chronic health conditions
  • Persons in nursing homes or long term care facilites
  • Household contacts of children less than 6 months old
  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications of the flu
  • Healthcare workers

Can I get the flu from a flu shot?

No. The influenza virus in a flu shot has been killed so it cannot cause the flu. Occasionally, some people who have received a flu shot can still contract the flu, but it is usually milder than if they had not received the flu shot at all.

What should I do if I get sick with the flu?

  • Call your doctor
  • Stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit contact with others
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Wash your hands often during the day, especially after coughing and sneezing.
  • If you are prescribed anti-viral medications start them immediately and make sure to finish the full course. Note that anti-viral medications will not “cure” the flu, but they have been shown to modestly decrease the duration of symptoms.

What is the best way to wash my hands?

Plain soap and water is just as effective as antibacterial soaps and it is usually less expensive. Liquid soap is preferred over bar soap since it cannot spread germs from one user to the next. When a bathroom is not available hand sanitizers are a convenient way to wash your hands.

How do I choose a protective facemask?

You can use any disposable facemask cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Facemasks may be labeled for surgical, dental, medical procedure, isolation, or laser use. Facemasks should be used once and then thrown away.