Willows Pediatrics Blog - We Know Kids
We Know Kids
The Willows Pediatrics Blog

Seasonal Influenza: Flu Basics

Girl blowing her nose. Space for text. Horizontal

We are now entering “Flu” season, and want to remind parents to be aware of how it is spread and ways to help prevent influenza infections. Hopefully your infant six months of age and over, as well as your children and adolescents have been vaccinated. If not, you can still call and schedule an appointment to receive the flu vaccine. Please remember children under age 9 years receiving the flu vaccine for the first time should have a booster dose one month after the first dose.

Person-to-Person Spread

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread by droplets formed when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid this, people should try stay away from sick people, especially those with fever, and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water.

According the CDC, most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have minimal symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Misconceptions about Flu Vaccines

Can a flu shot give you the flu?

No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.

In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get inactivated flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

Based on these flu facts, it is easy to see that receiving the flu vaccine is one of the most important, safest ways to prevent influenza infections. Even if the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, individuals who are vaccinated and still catch the flu are more likely to have less severe symptoms.

Helpful Links