UH Flu Treatment Services

Flu Season This Year: Flu Vaccines & Flu Symptoms

It’s more important than ever to get your flu shot this year. This year’s flu season will overlap with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the two illnesses have similar symptoms. Learn more about the types of flu, flu symptoms and other information, such as when to see a doctor.

Protecting You and Your Family

Getting a flu shot for you and your family is an important part of keeping everyone in your home as healthy as possible this year.

Even if you get a strain of the flu not covered by the vaccine, you will experience milder symptoms and recover faster if you get a flu shot this season. People who get the flu vaccine are less often hospitalized and less frequently develop complications that can lead to death. And getting the flu vaccine can help physicians with a diagnosis should symptoms turn severe.

You need to get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is updated each season as needed to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Most major insurance covers the cost of a flu vaccination.

When Is the Best Time To Get the Flu Vaccine?

Person receiving flu vaccine

The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully effective. Learn the best timing to get your shot this year from Robert Salata, MD, Chair, UH Department of Medicine and Program Director of UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health.

The 2021 Flu Vaccine is Now Available

UH Primary Care

UH Rainbow Pediatrician

UH Convenient Care

If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit a UH Convenient Care. No appointment is necessary.

Flu Vaccine for Older Adults

Flu vaccination is especially important for people age 65 years and older because they are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. A high-dose vaccine is available for these older adults, whose immune response is weaker than those who are younger.

Flu and Children

For children, flu is more dangerous than the common cold. Children younger than age 5 – especially those younger than age 2 – are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, as are children with chronic health problems. So annual vaccination against the flu is especially important for youngsters.

The CDC estimates that since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations among U.S. children younger than age 5 have ranged from 7,000 to 26,000. The flu vaccine offers the best defense against flu and its potentially serious consequences and can reduce the spread of flu to others.

The CDC says it’s best for children to receive their flu vaccination by the end of October, but later can still provide protection, as most flu activity peaks between December and February. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to develop antibodies that protect against flu virus infection.

High-Dose Flu Vaccine for Older Adults

Older adult receiving flu vaccine

Older adults over age 65 have a lesser immune response and so have a special high dose vaccine that improves chances of avoiding hospitalization, death or severe flu symptoms. Robert Salata, MD, chair of the UH Department of Medicine and Program Director of the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, explains.

Influenza in Children

Most children are ill with the flu for less than a week. But those with more serious illness may need to be treated in the hospital.

Flu Season is Here: Are You Ready?

How the Flu Spreads

Virus-Containing Droplets

Flu viruses spread when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk, which spreads virus-containing droplets. These droplets can infect others up to six feet away.

By Touching

You also can get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. So wash your hands often.

When Am I Infectious?

If you have the flu, you can infect others one day before symptoms appear and up to five to seven days after you get sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the help of fever-reducing medicine, except to get medical care or other necessities.

Flu Symptoms and How or Whether They Differ From Signs of a Cold

Is it cold season or flu season? Truth is, it's both. And the confusion between these two illnesses doesn't end there. Learn the differences in symptoms and why you need a different flu vaccine every year.

Flu Symptoms

The flu usually develops suddenly and can often be mistaken for a common cold. But the flu is much more severe and can often lead to serious complications (like pneumonia) if left untreated. Because of this, it's important to understand the warning signs so you can catch it early and get the right treatment. The most common flu symptoms are:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Stuffy or runny nose

Understanding Flu and COVID-19

The flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different viruses. Because symptoms for both illnesses are similar – and can range from no symptoms to severe – it can be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

Flu Treatment

With most cases of flu, you can recover by staying home and limiting contact with healthy people. Drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen for symptom relief. Never give aspirin to anyone younger than age 19, as this is linked to Reye's syndrome, a serious illness that can damage the brain and liver.

Some people, such as those who are pregnant, older than age 65 or younger than age 2, have certain chronic conditions such as lung, heart, kidney liver problems or a weak immune system, are at higher risk for flu complications such as pneumonia. If this is you, contact your doctor as early as possible in your illness. Your doctor can prescribe an antiviral, which you should take as soon as symptoms start. Antivirals can lessen and shorten the flu.

Where to Get Treatment for Flu

Make an appointment with your UH primary care physician or UH Rainbow pediatrician.

No primary care physician? No problem. UH has you covered with these options:

UH Virtual Visit

UH Virtual Visit brings care right to you. Make a virtual appointment using your phone, laptop or PC.

UH Convenient Care

Offering affordable, walk-in care clinics for cold and flu symptoms, with no appointment needed. UH Convenient Care is an easy alternative for when your doctor is not available, or you don’t have time to schedule an appointment.

UH Urgent Care

Experiencing flu-like symptoms? Our urgent care centers can quickly diagnose and treat cold and flu symptoms to help you feel better fast.

Do not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill. But do go if you experience emergency warning signs such as chest pain, difficulty breathing and severe fatigue.

Seek emergency medical care for these serious flu symptoms: