VA Boston Healthcare System
Outpatient Flu Schedule
As of September 2016: Patient Flu Shots Will Be Given on a Walk-In Basis at Facilities according to the Current Schedule - No Appointment Necessary
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Flu and You- Patient Information
What is the flu?
The flu is an illness caused by flu viruses. The flu may make people cough and have a sore throat and fever. They may also have a runny or stuffy nose, feel tired, have body aches, or show other signs they are not well. The flu happens every year and is more common in the fall and winter in the U.S. People of all ages can get the flu, from babies and young adults, to the elderly.
How does the flu spread?
People who have the flu can spread the virus by coughing or sneezing. Droplets released when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or talks can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs.
People may also catch the flu by touching their mouth or nose after touching something with the virus on it, such as doorknobs, tables, or an infected person’s dirty hand.
How do you know if you have the flu?
Signs of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, feeling weak or more tired than usual, headache, chills, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Not everyone who is sick with flu will have all the signs of the flu at the same time. Some people with the flu don’t have a fever. Most people who get the flu get better without seeing a doctor or taking medicine.
How sick do people get with the flu?
Some people get very sick and others do not. Most people who get sick get better without seeing a doctor or taking medicine. However, some people can get very sick from the flu and can die. Many of the people who get very sick are older than 65 years or have a medical condition such as: diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or kidney disease, or are pregnant. Children younger than 5 years of age are also at greater risk.
How long can a person with the flu spread the virus to other people?
Most people may be able to spread the flu from 1 day before showing symptoms to 5 to 7 days after symptoms begin. Severely ill persons or young children may be able to spread the flu longer. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your arm when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth because germs spread this way.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
Get a Flu shot as this year’s vaccine is very effective. Stay away from sick people. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Use medication as prescribed by your provider.
Everyday health habits to protect you and others:
If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Your fever should be gone without using fever-reducing medicine. Staying at home means that you should not leave your house except to get medical care. Stay away from others as much as possible so you don’t make them sick.
During flu season, be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a few days. Keep some over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues, and anything else you need so that you do not have to go out while you are sick.
If you are really sick or have other medical conditions or concerns, call your provider who will let you know if you need a flu test, flu treatment, or other care.