Seasonal Flu Prevention and Treatment
Understand How the Flu Spreads
The flu usually spreads from person to person in respiratory droplets when people who are infected cough or sneeze. People occasionally may become infected by touching something with influenza virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.
Healthy adults may be able to infect others 1 day before getting symptoms and up to 5 days after getting sick. Therefore, it is possible to give someone the flu before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick.
Best Protection against the Flu: Vaccination
The single best way to protect yourself and others against influenza is to get a flu vaccination each year. Two kinds of flu vaccine are available in the United States:
The "flu shot" - an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease). See also Questions & Answers: Seasonal Flu Shot.
The nasal-spray flu vaccine - a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine"; or FluMist®). LAIV (FluMist®) is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.
Yearly Flu Vaccination
Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.
Antiviral drugs are available to treat and prevent the flu. "Healthy" indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.
Should you go to work?
Message from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: State health officials urge all persons with mild flu-like illness to stay home. Children and adolescents with fever should not go to day care or school. Adults with fever should not go to work until their fever has gone away for 24 hours (without use of fever reducing medicine). Individuals with severe illness, such as difficulty breathing, should contact their health care provider. Schools, businesses and other organizations are urged to plan for the flu.