While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Flu activity usually peaks between December and February, although it can last as late as May.

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce doctor visits, missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. Flu vaccine changes every year to try to keep up with the evolving virus.

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets of saliva, made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills-not everyone with flu will have a fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

You may pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Complications from the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.  Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age.  Some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Mountains Community Hospital Rural Health Clinic patients can call to make an appointment at (909) 336-9715.  Rite Aid in Blue Jay is currently offering flu shots, which are free with most insurance plans. No appointment is necessary.  You can also see your personal physician to get immunized. Don’t wait until you feel flu symptoms!