About Seasonal Flu
Seasonal flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect humans every year. Every year in the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever (often high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. It can lead to more severe disease, and even death in infants and people who are very old or have chronic health problems. In New England, flu season usually begins in December and can last into March or April.
This flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
People at Increased Risk for Influenza-Related Complications:
- All children 6 months through 4 years of age.
- All persons > 50 years of age.
- People 6 months – 18 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
- Women who will be pregnant during influenza season and postpartum women.
- People > 6 months of age who have:
- Chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic, or metabolic disorders, including diabetes;
- Immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or HIV);
- Any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders) that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk of aspiration.
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities.
- American Indians/Alaska Natives
- People who are morbidly obese (BMI > 40)
Persons Who Can Transmit Influenza to Persons at High Risk:
- Health care personnel, employees of assisted living facilities, people who provide home care to persons at risk, medical emergency response workers, and students in these professions.
- Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged < 5 years and adults > 50 years of age, and of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
Persons at increased risk of exposure to influenza:
- Persons who provide essential community services.
- Students and other persons in institutional settings (e.g., dormitories).
Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones Against Flu and Colds
The flu is caused by a virus that is easily passed from one person to another by coughing and sneezing. Follow the tips below as the best ways to avoid these viruses and to stay healthy.
Wash your hands often.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
This decreases the chance that you will get the flu virus or other germs into your body, or that you will pass the flu to others.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Cover your mouth and nose and cough or sneeze into your sleeve. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
Clean things that are touched often.
Clean things that are touched often, such as door or refrigerator handles, computer key boards/mouse, phones and water faucets.
Below is a list of links to helpful information from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) on preventing and treating seasonal flu.
Flu: What You Can Do: Caring for People at Home Series
Massachusetts Department of Health & Human Services (MDPH) offers a series of general flu-related documents including the following:
This form helps you organize essential contact and health information.
A list of supplies you will need to prepare your home to care for family members with flu.
This form helps you organize important information about your family member for your doctors phone call.
Additional Fact Sheets (MDPH)
- Fact Sheet: Seasonal Flu
facts about preventing and treating seasonal flu
- Fact Sheet: Dehydration and the Flu
facts about preventing and treating dehydration associated with the flu
- Fact Sheet: Fever and the Flu
facts about preventing and treating fever associated with the flu
Guidance for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
You can also dial 2-1-1, for more health and human services information.