Fall and winter months are well known for cooler weather, colorful leaves, and festivities in the holiday season. But fall and winter are also well known for influenza (flu) outbreaks. Flu season lasts from October to May, and each year, millions of people in the United States get the flu.
The flu is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Common flu symptoms include:
Runny or stuffy nose
Fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with flu will have a fever)
Tiredness or weakness
Flu symptoms can be mild or moderate and may improve in a few days, but they can also be very severe and even deadly. The flu is particularly dangerous for young children, older adults, and people who have weakened immune systems. Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States are hospitalized with the flu each year, and thousands die annually from flu complications.
You can help protect yourself from the flu by getting a seasonal flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older. Flu vaccines can protect you from getting sick, but it can also help prevent you from passing on the virus to anyone who is especially at risk for flu complications. You can get a flu vaccine at your healthcare provider’s office, at a pharmacy that gives shots, or a community flu clinic or health center.
To find clinics near you that offer flu vaccines, you can visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Flu Vaccine Finder or call your health provider or pharmacy.