Flu Vaccine Information
It’s likely that flu (influenza) viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Health care systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2022–2023 is more important than ever.
When Does Flu Season Start?
In Utah, flu season usually starts in early fall—September and October.
Flu Vaccine Availability: Find a Location
A flu shot is the best way to help prevent seasonal flu. Doctors recommend individuals get a flu shot as soon as possible. Although the vaccination won’t protect you from COVID-19, it can reduce the severity of your symptoms if you get sick.
Please note that we have a limited number of flu shot appointments. You can also get a flu shot at your neighborhood pharmacy or other location.
Benefits of Flu Vaccine & Side Effects
Benefits of the Flu Vaccine
While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, there are many important benefits, such as:
- Reducing your risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
- Helping health care systems save resources to care for patients with COVID-19.
How Long for the Flu Vaccine to Take Effect?
After you get a flu shot, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop its defenses.
Does a Flu Vaccine Increase Your Risk of Getting COVID-19?
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.
Flu Shot Side Effects
Side effects from the flu vaccine are usually mild and don’t last long. These could include the following:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
- Muscle aches
Help prevent the spread of influenza: Wear a face mask. Wearing masks can prevent you from getting both the flu and colds.
Flu Symptoms: Do You Have Them?
Influenza, or flu, is an infection of your respiratory system—the organs and tissues that help you breath. Symptoms of the flu can come on quite suddenly. They include these:
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills (though not everyone will have a fever)
- Muscle or body aches
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. This is more common, however, in children than adults.
People With High-Risk Complications From the Flu
You may be at high risk of serious complications from the flu if you are one of the following:
- Children under five
- Adults 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic medical conditions
Flu Vs. COVID-19
Every year, doctors determine whether someone has influenza based on a patients’ clinical symptoms. Because flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, it’s important for a patient to have a clinical evaluation and testing if necessary. The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to tell the difference between the two viruses due to an overlap of symptoms.
“Our goal is to keep our community as safe as we can, test everyone for COVID-19 that needs a test, and advise them on any other steps.”
—John Barrett, MD, executive medical director at University of Utah Health
Doctors at U of U Health follow the current influenza activity in Utah through the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). As doctors see a local outbreak of influenza in Utah, it’s much more likely that someone with cold symptoms has a case of the flu.
Following the UDOH Influenza weekly report helps doctors assess a patient and confirm a diagnosis. In Utah, influenza cases generally spike in late November to early December.
Preventing the Flu
You should continue to practice preventive measures to help stop the transmission of viruses. Face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu, and the common cold.
Those that are sick and staying home should do what they can to protect other household members. If symptoms get worse, you can schedule a virtual urgent care visit at U of U Health.
Treatment for Flu
Prescription medications can be used to treat influenza. Your doctor will tell you if these are necessary. Take care of yourself by getting rest and drinking lots of fluids. Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms are getting worse, contact us.
Don’t infect people. Don’t go out unless you have to. Wash your hands. Don’t share utensils at home. Be aware of spreading to others in your home.
Caring for Someone With the Flu at Home
- Check with their health care provider about any special care they might need if they are pregnant or have a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or emphysema.
- Stay home for seven days after symptoms begin or until you are symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being dehydrated.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel often and especially after using tissues and after coughing or sneezing into hands.
- Avoid close contact with others. Do not go to work or school while ill.
When Should You Go to the Emergency Room?
If you are at high risk for complications or sick enough to need hospital care, you should go to the emergency room. The warning signs indicating you should go to the emergency room include:
- difficulty breathing,
- discolored lips,
- signs of dehydration, or
- being less responsive than normal.