Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated for the flu ahead of this flu season. By getting vaccinated, you’re doing your part to stay healthy and reduce the burden on our healthcare systems as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, saving medical resources for COVID-19 patients. Read the flu FAQ below to learn more about influenza, flu vaccinations and when and where to get vaccinated.

Influenza is commonly called the “flu.” Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause moderate to severe illness.

Flu activity is unpredictable. The timing, severity, and length of flu activity can change from one year to the next. Click this link for regular flu updates for Washington state.

You can get the flu any time of year, but it is more active in the fall and winter months.

People with flu often have symptoms that can also be seen with COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headache
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (this is more common in kids than adults)

If you or someone you know has these symptoms and they are severe, contact your doctor, nurse, or clinic as soon as possible. The best way to tell if you have flu is for a health care provider to test and confirm the diagnosis.

The flu spreads easily from person to person through coughs and sneezes. You can spread the flu to others before you know that you are sick. Adults can infect others one day before they show symptoms, and up to five days after they get sick. Kids can spread the virus for 10 or more days.

Yes. Viruses that cause the flu change often. If you had the flu or flu vaccine in the past you can get infected with a new strain of the flu. That’s why it’s important to get a flu vaccine every year.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year.

You can help stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illness like coronavirus by covering your coughs and sneezes, washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, wearing cloth face coverings, and staying home when you are sick.

The flu is unpredictable and can be severe, especially for older people, young kids, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions. These groups are at a greater risk for serious flu-related complications, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Loss of fluids (dehydration)
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions (asthma, congestive heart failure, or diabetes)

About Flu Vaccine

We are giving the flu vaccine at scheduled visits, both well and sick. In addition, we have lab appointments available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9-11:30 AM and 1-4:30 PM at both Woodinville and Mill Creek locations. Saturday flu clinics are in WOODINVILLE only by appointment from 9A-12 noon on Sep 25 (FULL), Oct 2 (FULL), Oct 9, Oct 16, and Oct 23. Please call 425 483 5437 for an appointment.

The inactivated influenza vaccine, or flu vaccine (PDF), contains inactivated (killed) viruses. Flu shots will be quadrivalent (protects against four strains).

If your child is getting the seasonal flu shot for the first time, you can expect that she will also need a second shot a month later. Since 2009, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that all children age 6 months through 8 years old should get two doses of flu vaccine the first year that they are vaccinated against the flu. If your child had his first flu shot last year but only got a single shot, then this year he should get a flu shot and a booster shot. The second dose of vaccine should be administered at least 28 days after the first shot.

No. Flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccines are made with either inactivated (killed) virus, weakened (attenuated) virus, or through methods that do not use the flu virus at all (recombinant flu vaccine).

No. Flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19, colds, or other viruses. The flu vaccine contains the flu virus strains that research suggests will be most common that year.

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine changes from year to year depending on:

  • The match between the flu strains in the vaccine and the flu strains that are circulating
  • The age and health of the person being vaccinated

No flu vaccine is 100 percent effective, but they give moderate protection for about one year, and can help reduce the severity of flu disease if you do get sick.

For more information, visit the CDC’s Vaccine Effectiveness–How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work? page.

COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines (including flu vaccine). This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day.

Vaccine Safety

Yes. Flu vaccines have a very good safety record over the last 50 years. The vaccine is made and rigorously tested each year.

Like any medication, vaccines may have side effects. Every year, the CDC works closely with the FDA, health care providers, state and local health departments, and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines. The CDC also works closely with the FDA to monitor unexpected health problems following vaccination.

Visit these links for more information about vaccine safety:

Some people do not get any side effects from the vaccine, but some do. Most side effects from the flu vaccine are mild. The most common side effects are:

  • Soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling where the vaccine was given
  • Fainting (mainly in adolescents)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Nausea (upset stomach)

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after a person receives the vaccine, and last for one to two days. Life-threatening allergic reactions are rare. If they do occur, they usually happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine was given. If your doctor or pharmacist is concerned you may have an allergic reaction or a side effect such as fainting, they may ask you to wait at the clinic or pharmacy for 15 minutes after you get the vaccine.

A vaccine information statement will be provided at the time you get your vaccine about benefits and risks, what side effects to look for after vaccination and how to report side effects.

Prevention and Treatment of Flu

How to stop the spread of flu:

  • Get a flu vaccine every year
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Use alcohol-based hand gel or disposable wipes
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper sleeve, not your bare hand
  • Use a tissue to wipe your nose, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands
  • Stay home and away from others while you or your family members are sick
  • Wear a cloth face covering if you have to go out in public

The main treatment is supportive. Fluids, rest, and fever reducing medications dosed appropriately for your child’s age and size. Medications called antiviral drugs can be used to treat the flu. These drugs must be prescribed by a medical provider.

If they have severe flu symptoms, contact us as soon as possible, especially if he or she is at high risk of developing flu-related complications (CDC). The best way to tell if they have flu is for a health care provider to test confirm the diagnosis. If they have the flu, we may prescribe antiviral drugs for treatment. While COVID-19 is prevalent, since symptoms can be similar, we may need to test for that as well.

If they have severe flu symptoms, contact us as soon as possible, especially if he or she is at high risk of developing flu-related complications (CDC). The best way to tell if they have flu is for a health care provider to test confirm the diagnosis. If they have the flu, we may prescribe antiviral drugs for treatment.

Antibiotics-not indicated for viral illnesses like flu

Antibiotics only work for infections that are caused by bacteria. They don’t work for viruses like colds or the flu. If you take antibiotics for a viral illness, you could develop resistant germs or “superbugs.” Then, when you really need the antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

Find more information on the WA DOH antibiotics page.