Flu Resource Center

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Visiting Children's? Read Our Guidelines During Flu Season.

It's flu season, and the single best way to prevent the seasonal flu is by getting yearly vaccines.

The vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. There is no live virus in the flu shot.

Plan to get shots early for you and your family for the best protection throughout the season, which ends in late winter and early spring.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone age 6 months and older to get inoculated from influenza or the contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. 

Your age and that of your children might put you and them at greater risk of having problems with the flu. Children younger than 6 months old are too young to get shots, but the best way to protect them is to make sure other people in their families get their shots.

Most children who died from the flu last season were not vaccinated, according to the CDC. For more information about pediatric deaths since the 2004-2005 flu season, visit the CDC’s interactive web tool. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu-related complications and approximately 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu, according to the CDC.

Resources for keeping your family flu free:

Plan to get your flu vaccines early if you or your children are part of one of the following groups:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children 6 months and older; consult a pediatrician to confirm if your child requires two doses given at least 28 days apart
  • Anyone 6 months or older with a chronic health problem such as asthma, kidney disorders, heart disease, cancer or an impaired immune system as they are at higher risk for problems from the flu
  • Adults 50 or older who may be at high risk to get flu complications

“Severe influenza complications are most common in children younger than 2 years old,” according to the CDC.

Each year, about 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications.

The flu comes on suddenly and causes mild to severe illness, including death. People who have the flu may feel or show some of the following symptoms:

  • Chills or feverish
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

In addition to vaccines, the best ways to prevent transmission is prolonged and thorough hand washing using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers as well as practicing good health habits, and try to avoid close contact with sick people.

What to Expect This Season

What to Expect This Season

What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season

According to the CDC, "the upcoming season's flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine."

While it's not possible to predict what the season will be like because its length, timing and severity vary from season to season. Flu activity can begin in October and continue through late, but generally peaks between December and February.

How much vaccine will be available?

"Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market," according to the CDC.

What viruses does this season’s vaccine protect against?

Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. 

All of the 2014-2015 vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.

Some of the 2014-2015 flu vaccine also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus).

Vaccines that give protection against three viruses are called trivalent vaccines. Vaccines that give protection against four viruses are called quadrivalent vaccines. More information about influenza vaccines is available at Preventing Seasonal Flu With Vaccination.

Nasal spray vaccine for children 2 to 8 years old

Starting this year, there is a new CDC recommendation for use of a nasal spray vaccine in children 2 to 8 years old because the spray is thought to work better than the flu shot in younger children. But if the spray is not immediately available, don't delay in getting your child vaccinated. Get the shot. For more information about the new CDC recommendation, see Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine in Children 2 through 8 Years Old or the 2014-2015 MMWR Influenza Vaccine Recommendations.

Health Habits to Prevent the Flu

Health Habits to Prevent the Flu

While vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, good health habits can help stop the spread of illness and help prevent others from getting sick, too.

These include:

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Stay home if you're sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food such as fruits and vegetables

Resources for keeping your family flu free: