Flu Prevention

You can prevent the flu. There are a number of steps you can take that drastically decrease the likelihood that you will get sick from the flu, such as getting vaccinated, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, washing your hands often, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

See below for actions you can take to protect yourself and others from the flu.

Personal Protection

 Get Vaccinated

Why should I get the flu vaccine?An adult holding a baby with and older adult's arm on their shoulder

The best way to protect yourself and the people around you from the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year in the fall.

Even if you typically don't get sick, getting vaccinated will stop you from spreading it to others at higher risk of getting hospitalized or dying from the flu.

This year, with COVID-19 spreading during flu season, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated against the flu. While it won't protect you against COVID-19, it can protect you from the flu and keep you and your loved ones out of an already overburdened health care system.

Please help us keep you and your families healthy by making sure that everyone who is older than 6 months gets their flu vaccine.

Where can I get the flu vaccine?

You can call your doctor, pharmacy, or check out your local health department’s website to find a flu vaccinator near you.

Wisconsinites’ high demand for flu vaccine in some places may mean that some vaccinators run out of vaccine supply before their next shipment arrives. To make sure your vaccinator has vaccine available, please call ahead.

  • There may also be more than one location in your area that has vaccine available.
  • If you have health insurance, it is best to call your insurance company to ask where you can get your flu vaccine and verify any costs.
  • Children who aren't covered under health insurance can get free vaccines through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). Find a VFC provider in your city and call ahead to make a flu vaccine appointment for your child.

When is the best time to get the flu vaccine?Flu shot note on calendar, yellow highlighter circling date

Since it takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine for your body to build up defenses against flu infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommend that everybody age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine in the fall.

It is best to protect yourself and the people around you before the flu starts to spread in your community. But if you aren’t able to get your vaccine by the fall, please still get vaccinated because the vaccine can protect you for the rest of the winter and spring.

What are the different types of vaccines?

Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common in that particular flu season. This year, most flu vaccines are quadrivalent, meaning they protect against all four viruses (H3N2, H1N1, and two B viruses). Egg-free (quadrivalent recombinant and cell-based vaccines) and needle-free options (FluMist nasal spray) are available as well. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about which vaccine is the best choice for you.

According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, standard-dose Flublok® Quadrivalent vaccines are just as safe and effective for people above the age of 65 as the Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent or FLUAD® Adjuvanted Quadrivalent vaccines which are marketed towards 65+ year olds. Please take advantage of the available flu vaccine, rather than staying unprotected against the flu while waiting for a specific vaccine.

View the pediatric and adult influenza vaccine product and dosing list for more information about available vaccines. Please note, some of the products listed may not be available through the Wisconsin Vaccines for Children program. Have a question? Let us know.

Who is at higher risk of having serious complications due to the flu?Applying a bandage to an arm after an injection

  • Young children
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or heart disease

Although it is especially important that people in these groups get vaccinated to decrease their risk of severe flu illness, it is very important that healthy 5 to 64 year olds get vaccinated too, since they are most likely to spread influenza and can still get complications from flu.

Children under the age of 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, but are at a high risk of serious flu illness. It is important that people who live with or care for infants, as well as anyone who is at a higher risk of flu complications, get the flu vaccine every year to prevent spreading the flu to them.

 Additional Steps to Stop the Spread of Germs

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take these steps to stop the spread of flu germs:

  • Avoid close contact with people that are sick.Proper hand washing technique
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often at home, work, or school.
  • Take good care of your body.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Eat food high in nutrients, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
    • Stay physically active.
    • Manage stress.

If you do become sick with the flu, there are steps you can take to make sure you don't spread your illness to others:Woman grabbing a tissue

  • If possible, stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care or for other necessities. CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicine.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

 Take Antivirals if Prescribed

Antiviral drugs may be prescribed by your doctor if you have the flu. Many people do not need antivirals to recover from the flu, but they can be used to make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also help to prevent serious flu complications, such as pneumonia.

Antiviral drugs are not antibiotics. Antivirals work best when they are started within two days of getting sick. Starting antivirals later than this can still be helpful, especially if you are at a high risk of developing severe flu illness, or are very sick from the flu.

 Resources

DHS Resources

CDC Resources

Questions about the flu? Contact us!
Phone: 608-267-9003 | Fax: 608-261-4976

Last Revised: September 17, 2021