Individuals, Parents and Caregivers
Flu is different from the common cold. With the flu, one or more of these symptoms may come on suddenly - about 48 to 72 hours after contact with the virus:
- Fever (usually high)
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Occasionally, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Urgent Warning Signs
If you or a loved one is sick and you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting.
Flu vaccines are your best protection against influenza. For 2010-2011, only one flu shot is necessary for most people. Some children under 9 years old may require two shots. Consult with your pediatrician.
These Groups Need Flu Vaccines the Most
The CDC identified certain groups of people who are particularly susceptible to influenza viruses. SCDHEC urges all South Carolinians to get influenza vaccines.
The following persons should seek an influenza vaccine as soon as possible:
- All persons aged >50 years
- All children aged 6 months to 4 years (59 months)
- Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurological, hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
- Adults and children who are immunosuppressed (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Children and adolescents (aged 6 months-18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- American Indians/Alaska Natives
- Persons who are morbidly obese (BMI>40)
- Healthcare personnel
- Household contacts and caregivers of children aged <5 years and adults aged >50 years, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged <6 months
- Household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe complications from influenza.
Additional Information on Flu Vaccines from the CDC:
- Q & A: Vaccine Safety Monitoring Systems for the 2010- 2011 Season
- Q & A: Febrile Seizures Following Childhood Vaccinations
- Q & A: Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Q & A: Thimerisol and 2010- 2011 Seasonal Flu Vaccines
- Q & A: General Vaccine Safety Questions and Answers
- Vaccine Selection for the 2010-2011 Season
- The Flu: Caring for Someone Sick at Home
- Flu Myths and Realities
- Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine
Everyday Flu Prevention
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash them for as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Stay home if you are sick until you have been symptom-free without taking fever reducing medicine for 24 hours.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest.
If despite your best efforts you get the flu, but your symptoms are mild and you don’t fall into a high risk category, you may not need to visit your healthcare provider.
If you have more severe symptoms, are at risk of complications or have close contact with someone in a high risk group, your healthcare provider has antiviral medications to help you recover faster and lower your risk of passing the virus on to others.
If you're caring for someone who has the flu:
- Never give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu; this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
- Frequently wipe down commonly touched surfaces like stairway railings, telephones, and door handles. Other than that, follow your normal housekeeping routine.
- Get additional information on environmental disinfection to prevent flu from the CDC.
- The Flu: Caring for Someone Sick at Home
Information for Parents:
- Questions and Answers: Opening and Mixing Tamiflu Capsules with Liquids if Child Cannot Swallow Capsules (CDC)
- For Kids (En Español)
- Information on staying well while traveling from the CDC.
For information on school closings, contact your local public school district or private school.
If, after reading the information available on our website, you have questions about the vaccine,
please call 1-800-27SHOTS (1-800-277-4687).