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

Applying a bandage to an arm after an injection

Why should I get the flu vaccine?

The flu is a serious illness that can make you very sick. It can sometimes lead to having to go to the hospital, or even to death.

The best way to protect yourself and others from the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year in the fall. Getting a flu vaccine will not only help you and those around you stay healthy, but will also help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flue vaccine is strongly recommended for everyone older than 6 months. Use the vaccine finder to find a vaccine location near you.

When is the best time to get the flu vaccine?

It takes at least two weeks after getting the vaccine for your body to build up defenses against flu infection. That's why it is important to get the flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by Halloween (the end of October). If you are unable to get vaccinated by Halloween, you can still get protection from the virus, even into January or later.

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. Three-component (trivalent) vaccines contain an H3N2, an H1N1, and a B virus. Four-component (quadrivalent) vaccines have an additional B virus component. Both three-component and four-component flu vaccines are available. The flu mist vaccine is also available for the 2020-2021 flu season. Talk with your doctor about which vaccine is the best choice for you.

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?

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

It is especially important that people in these groups get vaccinated to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. 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.


DHS Resources

CDC Resources

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

Last Revised: September 16, 2020