Influenza (flu) is an infection from a virus. It can cause a fever, body aches, a headache and a cough. It's contagious and usually lasts about a week or two. Flu symptoms are usually worse than a cold and last longer. Most flu outbreaks happen in late fall and winter. Because symptoms may not start for a couple of days, you may pass the flu to someone before you know you have it.

How does COVID-19 impact the flu season?

While the flu shot won’t directly protect you from COVID-19, it’s another tool to keep you and the community safe. The seasonal flu vaccine remains very important and is highly recommended. You may receive the flu shot in a drive-up location instead of inside your doctor’s office. The protective measures that are in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus can also help limit the transmission of the flu.

Why getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year!

  • Prevent coinfection: a brutal, potentially life-threatening one-two punch to your immune system from having to combat both the flu and COVID-19
  • Get protection from the flu: the annual vaccine is effective about 60% of the time, which is much more than the 0% of protection you get from skipping the shot
  • Protect your loved ones: a flu shot protects you and anyone you might otherwise have infected if you contracted the flu
  • Visit our COVID-19 pages for more information.

What causes the flu?

The flu is caused by the influenza virus. The two common types each season are labeled type A and type B. Type A usually causes the yearly outbreaks that often occur in the late fall and early winter. The flu is spread from one person to another through direct contact such as shaking hands, small droplets from sneezes or coughs, and touching contaminated surfaces.

Risk factors for severe symptoms and complications are:

  • Children age 2 and younger
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), other lung diseases or heart failure
  • People who have a suppressed immune system

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Cold and flu symptoms can be tough to tell apart since they have similar symptoms. Flu symptoms generally come on more rapidly and more intensely than those of a cold. These symptoms include:
  • Dry cough, runny nose and sore throat
  • Fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Body aches or muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

If you have one or more of these symptoms, call your doctor to determine if you should be tested for COVID-19 and/or the flu:

Should I get a flu shot?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu with rare exception. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after receiving the flu vaccine. When you get the flu shot, it also protects others around you by preventing transmission of the influenza virus.

While it's possible to get the flu even after receiving the vaccine, getting the flu shot also decreases the chances of hospitalization if you do get the flu.

In addition to vaccination, practice healthy habits to protect yourself such as:

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Staying home if you don’t feel well
  • Continuing the healthy habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19

How can I get a flu shot?

  • Existing Ohio State Primary Care patients can schedule a drive-thru appointment to get a flu vaccine by calling 614-810-4071 or using MyChart to schedule.
  • Get your flu shot during a regularly scheduled visit with an Ohio State physician or provider
  • Stop by an Ohio State pharmacy located in The James, University Hospital and East Hospital
  • Come to the Flu Blitz at Healthy Community Day 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Oct. 3. No appointment necessary. (You can also get a free Ohio State beanie and complimentary produce and we can help you register to vote.) Learn more

Don’t wait until you’re sick

Download the MyHealth app and sign up for MyChart today and get care from our experts when you need it, from wherever you are.

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