Salt Lake City, Utah (ABC4 Utah) — Each year, seasonal flu infections cause a variety of symptoms that start suddenly. The flu typically makes you feel rotten for 3 to 5 days. However, it can be dangerous for young children, older adults, and others with certain health conditions. To protect yourself and your community, you need a flu shot every year.

Last year, Utah had a pretty mild influenza season, although timing of when people were getting sick was earlier in the season and later into winter and spring. “We don’t know what this year might bring,” said Mercedes Cannon, RN, ambulatory nurse manager for primary care at Intermountain Healthcare. “The southern hemisphere has just had their earliest and largest influenza season in the past five years, which could predict a more severe influenza season for us this winter.”

“We could again be faced with a flu season with another respiratory virus that has very similar symptoms, that being COVID-19. If a person shows symptoms like fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches or headache, they are going to need to be tested for both COVID and influenza,” said Cannon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone ages 6 months and older to receive an annual flu vaccination.

There are a variety of options this year when it comes to your flu vaccine:

  • Quadrivalent regular dose injectable (or “shot”)
  • Intranasal or nasal spray (“FluMist” is a brand name)
  • High Dose quadrivalent or adjuvanted for people age 65+ years

The best way to find the vaccine that is right for you is to consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

The same prevention methods work for flu or COVID.

  • Get a seasonal flu vaccine. Everyone in the family (over the age of 6 months) should get a vaccine, and so should anyone who cares for your baby.
  • Wear a mask, being sure it covers your nose and mouth snuggly.
  • Wash your hands often and well, and have children do the same.
  • If you’re sick, stay home from school or work.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, if possible.
  • Cover your sneezes and coughs.
  • Use a tissue once, then throw it away and wash your hands.

Seasonal flu symptoms usually come on fast, causing chills, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, dry cough, and sore throat. Occasionally, seasonal flu will cause a runny or stuffy nose or, in young children, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The flu virus prefers air travel, catching rides on the tiny droplets that fly out when someone sneezes, coughs, sings, or talks. However, it can also stick around on surfaces for a while. If you touch something that was recently contaminated and then touch your mouth or nose, you can get infected, too. It is important to note you can spread the virus before you show signs of illness.

For a location to get a Flu vaccine near you, visit the Intermountain website, talk to your doctor or visit your local health department.

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