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How the Flu Spreads & How to Prevent Getting Sick

Flu season — stretches across seven months of the year, giving us plenty of unfortunate opportunities to catch it. October to May is prime time for this viral infection that causes symptoms which include fever, chills, dry cough, body aches, and a headache.

How Does the Flu Spread?

The flu is contagious, spreads by droplets, which means it can spread from person to person up to six feet away, especially when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. You can also pick up the flu from touching a contaminated surface then touching your face. The flu virus can live on surfaces for several hours.

Symptoms can begin about two days after the virus enters your body, which means you can unknowingly spread the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick.

How to Prevent Getting Sick

Unless you live in a bubble, there is no foolproof method to prevent you from getting sick from the flu. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your mouth and nose
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose

If you have the flu and need to leave your home, such as to go to a doctor’s appointment, you can wear a mask. This may help reduce the spread of infection.

Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?

Getting a flu shot every year can help you stay healthy. A flu shot contains the flu vaccine, which could keep you from getting the flu. It takes at least two weeks for the vaccine to start working. While the flu shot is not 100 percent effective in guarding against infection, it can reduce the severity of the illness should you contract it.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, especially if you are at higher risk for developing serious complications due to an underlying condition or other risk factors. Find a list of specific higher-risk groups here.

You need a flu shot every year for two reasons. First, flu viruses change. Each year’s virus maybe just a little different. If the virus changes, the vaccine used in the flu shot is changed. Second, the protection you get from a flu shot lessens with time, especially in older people. So, you should get the shot every fall to do your best to stay protected from the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is safe to get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine simultaneously.

Keep in mind if you get vaccinated and start to experience flu or COVID-19 vaccinated, it is important to get tested.  If flu is diagnosed within the first 48 hours, there is treatment.

Get Protected at American Family Care

American Family Care (AFC) wants to help keep you and your family healthy and safe during the flu season. Our clinics offer preventative flu vaccines for patients from age 1 and older. We are open seven days a week with extended hours. At AFC, we administer walk-in seasonal flu shots as a part of our preventative care services.

For more information about flu shots or other urgent care services, we provide and to find an AFC location nearest you, click here.

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