Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever
Who should get vaccinated this season?
Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
When should I get vaccinated?
CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as the flu season vaccine becomes available in their community. Influenza seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.
Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so availability depends on when production is completed. If everything goes as indicated by manufacturers, shipments are likely to begin in August and continue throughout September and October until all vaccine is distributed.
Doctors and nurses are encouraged to begin vaccinating their patients as soon as flu vaccine is available in their areas, even as early as August.
Where can I get a flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools.
Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.
Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change.
Also, multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time.
Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout the flu season.
Is there treatment if I get sick with the flu?
Yes. If you get sick, there are drugs that can treat flu illness. They are called antiviral drugs and they can make your illness milder and help you feel better faster. They also can prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. For more information about antiviral drugs.
What sort of flu season is expected this year?
Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the epidemic depends on many factors. These factors include what influenza viruses are spreading, whether they match the viruses in the vaccine, and how many people get the vaccine.
When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. It is not possible to predict how mild or severe a flu season will be.
What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States?
A number of different manufacturers produce both trivalent (three component) and quadrivalent (four component) influenza vaccines for the U.S. market. These vaccines can be delivered in multiple ways, including intramuscular (IM), intradermal, and nasal spray. See Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine for more information about the different types of vaccines available in the United States.
How much vaccine will be available?
Manufacturers have projected that they will produce between 171 million and 179 million doses of flu vaccine for the U.S. market.
Who produces the influenza vaccine for the United States?
The influenza vaccine for the United States is produced by a number of different vaccine manufacturers who are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC does not produce flu vaccine.
What flu viruses does the vaccine protect against?
Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming season. 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 2015-2016 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:
Some of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine is a quadrivalent vaccine and also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). This is a B/Victoria lineage 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.
CDC Says “Take 3” Actions To Fight The Flu
Flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu):
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
Visit CDC’s website to find out what to do if you get sick with the flu and how to care for someone at home who is sick with the flu.