Learn more about the flu and how you can help protect yourself and others from this potentially serious disease by getting vaccinated annually.
What is the flu? How does it spread?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness, and in rare instances, can lead to death. It can be spread easily through coughing, sneezing, and nasal secretions.1
What are the signs and symptoms?
The flu is different from the common cold and stomach virus. It may impact each person differently, but typical symptoms include:1
Who can be impacted by the flu?
While anyone can get the flu, it can be particularly serious for:1
- People 65 years and older
- People with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease
- Pregnant women
- Young children
Serese Marotta – A Mother’s Story About Flu
Each year, millions of children get sick with the flu, thousands are hospitalized and, while relatively rare, some die. Children younger than 5 and especially those younger than 2 are at high risk of serious flu complications.2 Serese Marotta, Chief Operating Officer of Families Fighting Flu, tragically lost her 5-year-old son Joseph to the flu in 2009.
What is the “flu season”?
“Flu season” is the time of year that flu viruses are most common. In the US, this is during the fall and winter months, as flu activity often begins to increase in October and November. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although it can last as late as May.3
How can I protect myself?
According to the CDC, the single best way to protect against the flu is for everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated annually.4
Other everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of flu include:5
What types of flu vaccines are available?
Flu vaccines are in a state of constant change, so vaccines must be newly developed each year based on the A and B flu virus strains that are most likely to make people sick. Two types of flu vaccines include:6
Is the flu vaccine effective?
Annual vaccination is the single best way to protect against the flu and reduce disease severity and complications. The CDC estimates that flu vaccination during the 2016–2017 flu season prevented an estimated 5.29 million illnesses, 2.64 million medical visits, and 84,700 flu-related hospitalizations.8 How effective the flu vaccine is can depend of several factors and vary from season to season.9
How are flu vaccines manufactured?
Today’s flu vaccines are made in chicken eggs, cell culture or through recombinant protein expression. Globally, more than 90% of flu vaccines are produced via egg-based manufacturing, a process that has been used for more than 70 years.10
Learn more about the flu and what you can do to help prevent it!
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1 CDC. Key Facts about Influenza (Flu). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Accessed March 2018.
2 CDC. Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm. Accessed March 2018.
3 CDC. Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm. Accessed March 2018.
4 CDC. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Accessed March 2018.
5 CDC. Preventive Steps. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm. Accessed March 2018.
6 CDC. Seasonal Flu Shot. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm. Accessed March 2018.
7 CDC. Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/quadrivalent.htm. Accessed April 2018.
8 CDC. Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical Visits, and Hospitalizations Averted by Vaccination in the United States. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2016-17.htm. Accessed April 2018.
9 CDC. Vaccine Effectiveness – How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work? Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm. Accessed March 2018.
10 CDC. How Influenza (Flu) Vaccines Are Made. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/how-fluvaccine-made.htm. Accessed March 2018.
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Parents of teens and young adults should take five minutes to talk to their child’s healthcare provider about the five vaccine-preventable serogroups of meningitis and the two different types of vaccines needed to help protect against the disease.