How to protect yourself and your loved ones
against the Flu
What is the flu?
Influenza or the flu is a very contagious disease
of the respiratory (breathing) system. The flu is easily passed from
one person to another by coughing and sneezing. It
is usually very unpleasant, but for most people symptoms generally get
better after 710 days.
The flu usually starts very suddenly with:
- fever (from 102° 104°) lasting
3 4 days
- severe muscle aches
- general weakness/extreme fatigue
These symptoms are accompanied by:
- dry cough
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
What to do if you have the flu:
- Rest in bed
- Drink lots of fluids
- Take non-aspirin pain relievers such as acetaminophen
(e.g. Tylenol®) or ibuprofen
(e.g. Advil®, Motrin®, etc.). Never give children or teens
with flu symptoms aspirin
as they can develop a serious disease called Reye syndrome.
- Stay home and avoid public activities until your
symptoms are resolved (usually 5-7 days)
- Talk with your health care provider if you are
considering prescription drugs as they can have serious side effects
in some people
- For extreme cases, visit your health care provider
or the emergency department as soon as possible
Note: If you are at high risk for complications
from the flu you should consult your health care provider when your
flu symptoms begin. Your doctor may recommend certain antiviral drugs
to treat the flu.
When should you see a health care provider?
You should see a health care provider or go to an
emergency room immediately if you have any of the symptoms below:
- Flu symptoms that are strong or that do not go
away after 7-10 days
- Breathing that is fast, difficult or painful
- Bluish skin
- Cough with yellow mucous
- Getting sick again with fever and/or a worse
cough after getting better.
- Not drinking enough fluids
Parents should seek medical attention for infants
and children that are:
- Not waking up; not interacting with others
- So irritable they do not want to be held
Q: Can I get the flu from the shot?
A: No. The vaccine used in the flu shot
is a killed virus which cannot give you the flu.
Q: Are there any side effects?
A: Yes, in some people, but these are usually minor: soreness
and swelling at the spot where the shot was given.
Q: Even if I get the shot, can
I still get the flu?
A: Yes. You may not be fully protected if you have recently been
exposed to the flu.
Q: When should I get my flu shot?
A: The best time is October or November, but you can still get
vaccinated in December and later. Flu Season can begin as early
as October and last as late as May.
Q: What is the nasal vaccine?
A: FluMist (sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza
Vaccine") is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause
the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to
49 years who are not pregnant.
Q: Can the flu vaccine protect
me against the Avian or bird virus?
A: No, it cannot protect you against Avian
Q: How about children?
A: For children 6 to 23 months, flu shots
are recommended. Household contacts and out-of-home
caregivers of children less than 6 months should also receive flu vaccine.
Q: What if I am pregnant?
A: Women who will be pregnant during flu
season should receive flu vaccine. Most community flu clinics
will immunize pregnant women. Call the specific clinic
sponsor to get more information.
And...while you're at it, get a pneumonia shot at
the same time if you are 65 or older, or have chronic heart, lung or
liver problems, certain types of cancer, a weakened immune system, or
Most people only need one pneumonia shot in their lifetime.
Less than 1 in 100 people have mild side effects such as fever or rash
from the pneumonia shot.
If you are covered by Medicare Part B, your flu and/or pneumonia shots
will be free at participating clinics. If you do not have Medicare,
most public health clinics will charge for your flu and pneumonia vaccine.
You can ask for a receipt to submit to your insurance
How can I find a flu shot?
The American Lung Association (ALA) in partnership with Maxim Health
Systems has developed an electronic influenza vaccine clinic locator.
To use the locator, go to www.flucliniclocator.org
enter a zip code and a date (or dates) and receive information about
clinics scheduled in your area.
In Massachusetts you can also find a listing of public
flu clinics at http://flu.masspro.org
or call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-983-6800
or toll-free at 888-658-2850.
In Connecticut you can call the Connecticut American
Lung Association flu hotline at 1 888 NO TO FLU or 1-888-668-6358 or
You can also contact your primary care provider, local
health department or VNA or visit Maxim Health Systems website www.findaflushot.com
What are other steps that can be
taken to prevent the flu?
There are other good health habits that can help prevent the flu. These
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When
you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from
getting sick too.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands
when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing
or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when
a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then
touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Also, antiviral medication may be used to prevent the
flu. Contact your primary medical provider for more information about
For further information, visit the CDC Flu website at
Box 746, 318 Main Street, Lakeville, CT 06039
Toll Free: 888-557-7272 Fax: 860-435-8193 Contact