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Flu (Influenza)

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. People get sick from seasonal flu viruses every year. Flu can cause illness ranging from mild to severe. In some cases flu can lead to hospitalization and even death. Most people who get the flu will have a fever and cough or sore throat. They may also have a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, a headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhea. more

What you should do to avoid the flu

Get vaccinated

Flu vaccine is safe and is the best defense against the flu. The Office of Immunization provides flu vaccination at no cost for students in kindergarten through grade 12 at school-based clinics. Clinics for high school students are during the school day. Clinics for younger children are in the evening. Most evening clinics are open to family members older than 3 years old and community members. Registration is recommended, but not required.

Find School Flu Clinics
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You can also get your flu shot at your doctor's office, a community clinic, or at a pharmacy (adults only). Community clinics can be found on the Ocean State Immunization Collaborative’s website.

People with severe egg allergies can be vaccinated by allergist David Katzen, MD. Office visit copays and deductibles will apply.

Who should get vaccinated

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every year, and it is especially important for people in the following groups to be vaccinated:

Practice good health habits

Flu viruses spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another person. They may also spread when people touch something covered with infected droplets and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.

  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel. more
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

What you should do if you think you have the flu

  • Stay home if you are sick. If you have flu-like symptoms (fever plus a cough or fever plus a sore throat), stay home from work, school, or child care until you have been fever-free (temperature less than 100.4 degrees F/38 degrees C) for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid using alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
  • Consider using over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve symptoms. Children younger than 19 years old should not be given aspirin to treat the flu.
  • Check with your healthcare provider about any special care you might need if you are pregnant or have an underlying health condition.
  • Tell your doctor if you've had flu-like symptoms or felt ill after returning from destinations with health travel advisories.
  • Consider antiviral medications. Antivirals are prescription medicines used to treat the flu when people are very sick or at high risk of flu-related complications. In order to work, they must be started within 2 days after getting sick. During a pandemic, antivirals may be prioritized for people at high risk of serious flu complications. more