Getting your flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu.
And it's more important than ever to stay healthy this fall. COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms and spread the same way. One of the biggest differences is that you can fight several flu strains with one shot. The flu shot lowers your risk of getting the flu and of complications if you do get sick. And they're recommended for everyone over six months old.
Flu shots are generally available at pharmacies, retail clinics, health departments and doctors' offices. Talk to your doctor about getting your flu shot at your next appointment, or use the options below to find where to get a flu shot nearest to you. You can also contact your local health department to find out where flu shots are available.
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Locate a Flu Shot Provider
Use this vaccine finder tool to locate where to get a flu shot near you. Simply choose "flu shot" or "flu nasal spray" under vaccine options and enter your age range and zip code.
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COVID-19, the flu, a cold or allergies?
It’s the beginning of cold, flu and allergy season, and this year, we also need to watch for COVID-19. It can be difficult to know what you’re fighting, though, as their symptoms can look very similar. View our symptoms page to learn more about what to do if you're already sick with symptoms that might be flu or COVID-19. The chart below can also help you decide when and where to seek care for your symptoms.
Flu Causes & Prevention
The flu is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses. It's more common in the fall and winter. It's spread through tiny droplets when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. You can become infected when you inhale these viruses directly. You can also become infected when you touch a surface on which the droplets have landed and then transfer the germs to your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching used tissues or sharing utensils, drinking glasses or a toothbrush from an infected person can expose you to flu viruses as well.
Unlike a cold, the flu can make you very ill. It can even lead to pneumonia, a serious lung infection. The flu can have serious complications and even cause death. Prevention is key. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine each year. Other ways to help prevent this virus include:
- Washing your hands often, using warm water and plenty of soap
- Staying away from people with the flu
- Carrying an alcohol-based hand gel containing at least 60% alcohol to use when you can't use soap and water
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Cleaning phones, computer keyboards, toys, doorknobs and other objects you touch frequently with disinfectant wipes
To help ease flu symptoms, you should drink lots of fluids such as water, juice and warm soup. You should also be sure to get plenty of rest. Ask your health care provider what to take for fever and pain. Call your provider if your fever is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or you become dizzy, lightheaded or short of breath.
The flu usually gets better after seven days or so. In some cases, your health care provider may prescribe an antiviral medicine. This may help you get well a little sooner. For the medicine to help, you need to take it as soon as possible (ideally within 48 hours) after your symptoms start. If you develop pneumonia or other serious illness, you may need to stay in the hospital.
Take Steps to Protect Others
If you have the flu, it's important to try to keep the virus from spreading further. Here are some steps you can take:
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands
- Stay home until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or chills
- Don't share food, utensils or drinking glasses with others
- Ask your doctor if others in your household should take an antiviral medicine to help them prevent infection