(The Daily Dish) 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 spring.

“We don’t know what this year might bring, but we always want to make sure we’re protecting kids,” said T.W. Jones, MD,  infectious diseases pediatrician at U of U Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “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 Dr. Jones.

Primary Children’s Hospital will also make it easier to receive a flu vaccine with a walk-in option at the hospital. Families can come in M-F from 8:30 am – 5 pm and receive their flu vaccine.

Who can be vaccinated for influenza?

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

What is the best vaccine for me?

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

What Else Can I do to Stop the Spread of Disease?

  • 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.

Signs and Symptoms

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.

How is Influenza Spread?

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.

Where can I find vaccine?

For locations near you, see your doctor or go to the Intermountain Healthcare Website.

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