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How much do you really know about the flu?

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"The flu." "Flu season." "Flu shots." They're all common terms to many people. But how much do you really know about the flu? The questions and answers below can help you get the facts on the influenza virus and take steps to be prepared when flu season arrives.

What is the flu?

The flu — also called influenza — is a virus that spreads around the world in seasonal outbreaks.1,2 Flu season typically begins in the fall.1,2 The most common flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, headache, fatigue, and muscle pains.1,2 But even though flu symptoms may seem similar to those of a common cold, influenza is a more serious disease and may result in as many as 49,000 deaths in the US every year.3

How does the flu spread?

Influenza spreads easily — especially if you spend time in crowded places such as work or school.1,2,4 When an infected person coughs, the flu virus gets into the air and another person can inhale it.1,2 The flu virus also spreads when someone touches a contaminated surface.1 That's why it is important to cover your nose and mouth when coughing — and regularly wash your hands.1,5,6

How can I help protect myself and my loved ones?

The best way to help prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year.5 In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the influenza vaccine annually.7 Click the link below to download:

When can I get a flu shot for myself or my loved one?

Flu vaccines are usually available in the late summer or early fall. Health care providers and pharmacies are encouraged to begin vaccinating their patients and customers as soon as the vaccine is available.8

Ready for a vaccination? Talk to your health care provider or find Fluzone vaccines in your area using the Fluzone Locator.

What if I get the flu, or my loved one gets it?

Because influenza is a virus, antibiotics won't help.2,4 People who catch the flu should stay home, get plenty of rest, drink clear fluids like water or broth, and talk to their health care provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines that may help ease a fever or muscle aches.4

If you or a loved one has a fever that doesn't go away in a few days, or if you're experiencing other symptoms of the flu, consult immediately with your health care provider.4 People in high-risk groups — including pregnant women, children under age 2 years, seniors over age 65 years, or people with respiratory problems — should seek immediate medical attention at the first sign of flu symptoms.2,4

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

This short video from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explains the ever-changing nature of influenza viruses and why an annual flu vaccine is important.
Watch video

There’s a Fluzone vaccine for you.

There’s a Fluzone Vaccine for you.

There’s a Fluzone vaccine for you.

Important Safety Information


Fluzone, Fluzone Intradermal, and Fluzone High-Dose vaccines are inactivated influenza virus vaccines given for active immunization against influenza disease caused by influenza A and B strains contained in the vaccine.

Fluzone vaccine is intended for persons 6 months of age and older.

Fluzone Intradermal vaccine is intended for persons 18 through 64 years of age.

Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is intended for persons 65 years of age and older. Approval of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is based on superior immune response relative to Fluzone vaccine. Data demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose vaccine relative to Fluzone vaccine are not available.

Safety Information

Side effects to Fluzone and Fluzone High-Dose vaccines include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site; muscle aches, fatigue, headache, and fever (irritability, crying, and drowsiness in young children receiving Fluzone vaccine). Redness, firmness, swelling, and itching at the injection site occur more frequently with Fluzone Intradermal vaccine than with Fluzone vaccine. Other side effects may occur. Fluzone, Fluzone Intradermal, and Fluzone High-Dose vaccines should not be administered to anyone with a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine component, including eggs, egg products, or thimerosal (the only Fluzone vaccine product containing thimerosal is the multi-dose vial), or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine.

Tell the doctor if you/your child has ever experienced Guillain-Barré syndrome (severe muscle weakness) after a previous dose of influenza vaccine. If you notice any other problems or symptoms following vaccination, please contact your health care professional immediately. Vaccination with Fluzone or Fluzone High-Dose vaccine may not protect all individuals.

For more information about Fluzone vaccine, talk to your health care professional and see complete Patient Information
For more information about Fluzone Intradermal vaccine, talk to your health care professional and see complete Patient Information
For more information about Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, talk to your health care professional and see complete Patient Information


  1. Atkinson W, Wolfe S, Hamborsky J, McIntyre L, eds. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 12th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation; 2011.
  2. Treanor JJ. Influenza viruses, including avian influenza and swine influenza. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010:2265-2288.
  3. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Estimates of deaths associated with seasonal influenza — United States, 1976-2007. MMWR. 2010;59(33):1057-1062.
  4. Dolin R. Influenza. In: Fauci A, Braunwald E, Kasper DL, et al, eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2008:1127-1132.
  5. CDC. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(RR-8):1-62.
  6. WHO (World Health Organization) Writing Group. Nonpharmaceutical interventions for pandemic influenza, national and community measures. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12(1):88-94.
  7. CDC. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 through 18 years and adults aged 19 years and older—United States, 2013. MMWR. 2013;62(Suppl):1-19.
  8. CDC. Influenza vaccination: a summary for clinicians.
    . Accessed April 30, 2013.


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