What is influenza (flu)?
Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. An estimated 5 to 20 percent of the population in the US contract influenza each year. Influenza is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a nonproductive cough.
Influenza can make people of any age ill. Although most people are ill with influenza for only a few days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza can also lead to pneumonia and death.
Flu Prevention Tips
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall, but good health habits and antiviral medications can also help protect against the flu.
Who should get vaccinated?
- Anyone 65 years and older
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- All children 6 to 23 months of age
Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma
- Adults and children 6 months and older who needed regular medical care or were in a hospital during the previous year because of
- a metabolic disease (like diabetes)
- chronic kidney disease
- weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]
- Children 6 months to 18 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy.
- People with respiratory problems.
- People 50 to 64 years of age. Nearly one-third of people in this age group have medical conditions that place them at increased risk for serious flu complications.
- Any person in close contact with someone in a high-risk group, including all health-care workers, adult and child caregivers.
Learn more about the flu.