Weekly Influenza Reports
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February: 2 | 9 | 16 | 23
Flu is an upper respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms of flu can include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Flu is not the same as a bad cold. It can be dangerous. Flu can cause high fever and pneumonia, and make medical conditions worse.
In the United States, about 36,000 people (mostly over the age of 65) die each year from the flu.
The flu is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Sometimes people get the flu by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. This can happen at home, work, church or school -- anywhere that we share close space or touch the same things, like chairs and tables, doors, and shopping carts.
- Stay home.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Wait 24 hours after your fever has gone away before going out.
- Get lots of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, or with your upper sleeve or the inside of your elbow.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Wash your hands often.
If you get sick with flu, antiviral drugs may be a treatment option. Check with your doctor promptly if you are at high risk of serious flu complications and you get flu symptoms. People at high risk of flu complications include young children, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For people at high risk of serious flu complications, treatment with antiviral drugs can mean the difference between milder or more serious illness possibly resulting in a hospital stay.
The best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Flu vaccination has important benefits – it can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any relevant allergies. Flu shots are approved for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. There are flu shots that also are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age and up.
For common flu myths, visit CDC’s flu misconceptions - https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm
The flu vaccine contains flu viruses that are grown in a laboratory and then killed (also called "inactivated"). These are made into a vaccine, which can be injected or sprayed in the nose to help protect against the flu. The vaccine is not a treatment for people who already have the flu. Instead, it helps prevent people from getting the flu in the first place. The vaccine builds our body's ability to fight the flu.
Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu vaccine each year. It is especially important for people who are more likely to get sick, and those who can spread the virus to others. This includes children between 6 months and 5 years old (especially children younger than 2); adults over 65; pregnant women; people with chronic medical conditions including diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and HIV; people who live in nursing homes; and health care workers. Those who live with or care for children less than 6 months of age should also get the vaccine.
Certain people should talk with a doctor before getting a flu shot. This includes people who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or to a previous flu shot; people who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome; or anyone who has a fever.
Yes, it is okay to get the vaccine if you have a mild illness -- as long as you do not have a fever.
Yes. The flu vaccine changes every year, to protect against new flu viruses that are expected. Last year's vaccine may not protect against this year's viruses.
There are many different flu viruses. Each year, a new flu vaccine is developed. It is designed to fight 4 flu viruses that scientists expect to be most common that year. This yearly vaccine is also called the "seasonal flu vaccine" or the "annual flu vaccine." "Seasonal" doesn't mean you need to get a flu vaccine every spring, summer, fall, and winter. You only need it once a year.
There is a nasal flu spray vaccine available in the 2018-2019 flu season. Talk to your doctor to discuss whether this is the best vaccine for you.
The flu vaccine works most of the time. Each year's flu vaccine fights the 4 most common flu viruses for that year. If they come in contact with a different flu virus, they could still get the flu. One benefit to the flu vaccine is that even if you do become infected with flu, symptoms are often more mild compared to those who are unvaccinated. Getting the flu vaccine is always better than not getting it.
The inactive flu viruses in the vaccine trick the body into thinking it is being infected, so the body builds immunity against the flu. Then, if a real flu virus tries to infect that person, their body is ready to fight against it.
Yes, but even if you get the flu, the vaccine can help lessen the symptoms. The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to work.
No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness.
Flu vaccines have been given since the 1940's, hundreds of millions of times. Almost all people who get one have no serious problems. Sometimes people get sore at the spot where they get a vaccine. Very rarely, some people get a fever, pain or weakness after getting the flu shot. In both cases, this usually goes away in a day or two.
A vaccine, like any medicine, may cause serious allergic reactions in very rare cases. Get medical help right away if hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness occur after getting the shot. Also, about 1 person in a million can get an illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) following the flu vaccine.
Last updated: 2/25/20