What is the flu virus?

Flu, or influenza, is a contagious respiratory virus that affects the respiratory system and spreads easily from person-to-person through coughing and sneezing. It can cause mild to severe illness, and even death in some cases. Symptoms include: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Download our flu fact sheet in English or Spanish. For the latest flu reports, click here.

Who should get a flu vaccine?

Everyone six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine

every year

Don’t wait to vaccinate

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your family from flu and flu-related complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or worsening of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, or diabetes. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to provide full protection. Since flu season could begin in October and last into May, it’s best to get vaccinated now. People who are at increased risk of developing serious complications from flu should definitely get a flu vaccine; as should their caregivers.

Limit the spread of illness

In addition to getting vaccinated, encourage family members to take these common sense measures to protect against flu.

Practice the three C’s to stay healthy and prevent germs from spreading at home, work and school:

  1. Clean: properly wash your hands frequently
  2. Cover: cover your cough and sneeze
  3. Contain: contain your germs by staying home
    if you are sick

Flu vaccine delivery options for 2016-17

CDC recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2016-2017. 

For more information about flu vaccine types, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For flu vaccine, contact your primary care provider, local pharmacy, Ambulatory and Community Health Network of Cook County clinics or use the Vaccine Finder above, right.