Flu (influenza)

What is the flu?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu can be contracted by inhaling respiratory droplets produced an infected person's coughing or sneezing, or by touching a surface contaminated by the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes. If someone has the flu, he or she is contagious from the day before the onset of symptoms up to seven days after getting sick. If you’d like to learn more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an excellent source of information about the flu.


What are the symptoms of the flu?

In most cases, symptoms of flu have a sudden onset. Symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Flu can lead to complications including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes even when treated appropriately.

If you think you have the flu, visit your medical provider as soon as possible. Your doctor can perform a nasal-swab flu test that aids in diagnosing the flu.


How is the flu prevented?

The best protection against flu is getting a flu shot before flu season begins. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot each fall, including pregnant women. In addition to getting a flu shot, adhere to the following healthy practices:

  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, and wiping or blowing your nose.
  • Use paper tissues when wiping or blowing your nose and throw them away after use.
  • Cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow instead of into your bare hand.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes, as germs enter the body through these openings.
  • Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms until you remain fever-free without fever medicine for 24 hours.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay away from crowds, if possible.
  • If a family member or other close associate like a roommate is diagnosed with the flu, there is a medicine you can be given to decrease your chance of getting the flu.


Flu shots at Patient First

Beginning Friday, September 11th, 2020, flu shots will be available at all Patient First Centers. Through our Fast Track Flu Shot program, patients can visit our Centers between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. to receive a flu shot with little to no wait time, if they do not wish to be seen by a physician for any other concerns.

Fast Track Flu shots at Patient First

Through our FAST Track Flu Program, you may walk into any center from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. to receive your flu shot with little or no wait. This program is for those who do not wish to see a physician. This flu season, Patient First is offering two types of influenza vaccines: a seasonal flu shot as well as a high-dose for those aged 65 or older.

Standard-Dose Flu Shots (Ages 3 and up)

  • Available to patients aged 3 and older.
  • Offers protection against four types of influenza viruses.
  • $0 out-of-pocket cost with most insurances.
  • Maximum out-of-pocket cost is $35.
  • Self-pay cost is $35.

High-Dose Flu Shots (Ages 65 and up)

  • Available only to patients aged 65 and older.
  • Offers protection against the same four strains as seasonal flu shots.
  • $0 out-of-pocket cost with most insurances.
  • Maximum out-of-pocket cost is $65.
  • Self-pay cost is $65.

Getting the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19.

Below are some common questions people have about receiving the flu shot: 

Should I get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months or older should get a flu shot each fall. This includes pregnant women. Children who are 8 years old or younger require two flu shots at least four weeks apart if they have not received two previous flu shots in their lifetime.

When are flu shots available?

Flu vaccines become available at the beginning of fall and remain available in most locations until flu has subsided (usually around March). The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, as it takes about two weeks from the time the shot is given for you to develop maximum protection. If your child is under the age of 8 and requires two flu shots, it is important to get the first one as soon as possible, so the second one can be given by the end of October.

Do I need a flu shot every year?

It is important to get a flu shot each year, as the flu vaccine is adjusted annually based on the viral strains anticipated for the oncoming flu season. Even if the anticipated strains in the vaccine remain the same, your body’s immunity diminishes as time passes, so the previous year’s shot may not protect you from getting sick this season.

Can I get the flu from a flu shot?

No, the viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot contract the flu from a flu shot.

What are the side effects of getting a flu shot?

The most common side effect is soreness at the injection site. Sometimes, a low-grade fever and aches occur after a flu shot. These symptoms usually last one to two days. To learn more about the side effects of the flu shot, please visit the CDC’s website.

Where can I go to get a flu shot?

You can find both standard-dose and high-dose flu shots near you at any Patient First medical center. Our centers begin stocking flu vaccines ahead of flu season, usually in early September. To ensure your desired flu vaccine is in stock for your visit, please consult your nearest center's location page.

How much does a flu shot cost?

Flu shots are free with most insurance plans (including Medicare). For those without insurance coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket cost for a standard-dose flu shot is $35. High-dose flu shots, sometimes called senior flu shots, are also covered by most insurance providers. The maximum out-of-pocket cost for a high-dose flu shot at Patient First is $65.


How is the flu treated?

If your medical provider has determined you are infected with the flu, he or she may prescribe anti-viral flu medication for you. The medication may reduce the duration of your illness if you begin taking it within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms.

You can come into any Patient First center from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. any day of the week - no appointment needed.

We would love to learn what would be helpful on this page for you.