Flu (Influenza)

Learn how you can protect yourself and your family

What is flu?

Flu, also known as influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses cause illness, hospital stays, and deaths in the United States each year.

How serious is flu?

Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While flu can be serious even in kids who are healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain chronic health conditions. Children younger than 5 years old–especially those younger than 2–are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Children of any age with certain chronic health conditions like asthma and diabetes are also at higher risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of flu?

Symptoms of flu can include:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever

Protect your child

The first and best way to protect against flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine for yourself and your child. Ask your health care provider which flu vaccine is right for your child.

  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible.
  • Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses of vaccine.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. Parents, siblings, and people who care for infants should be vaccinated in order to help protect younger children you cannot be vaccinated.

Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your community against flu illness, so schedule your flu shot today. To learn more, visit cdc.gov.