Influenza Health and Safety
This website will be updated with relevant guidance regarding influenza (flu).
Find answers to the most asked questions about influenza
For example, type in “vaccine” or “testing” in the search box. The list will filter to show only items that mention those keywords.
Influenza Health and Safety
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The flu can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms often come on suddenly and include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness), and some people may have vomiting or diarrhea. More information can be found here.
Influenza (flu), the common cold, and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, however, are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019.
Because flu, the common cold, and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing is needed for proper diagnosis. Testing is also important because it can reveal if an individual has both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. More information can be found here and here.
Students should visit the Student Health Center for testing. Faculty, staff or postdocs can visit their primary care doctor, a VUMC clinic, or Occupational Health for testing. An infection caused by the flu should be confirmed via a test. Individuals should get tested if they have flu-like symptoms and should shelter in place/remain at home to minimize exposure to others until they have their test results.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive an annual flu vaccine with rare exceptions. Anyone wishing to reduce their chances of catching the flu should get the vaccine.
Anyone with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine should not get the flu vaccine. Different flu vaccines are approved for use in people in different age groups and some are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine suitability include a person’s age, health (current and past), and allergies. More detailed information can be found at Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.
Flu vaccines are recommended yearly because flu viruses are constantly changing and therefore, the composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common. In addition, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual flu vaccine is needed for optimal protection. More information can be found here.
While you can still contract the flu if you are vaccinated, the flu vaccine lowers your risk of getting the flu by 40% to 60%. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick, and can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization. Flu vaccination is also an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic health conditions. Flu vaccination during pregnancy helps protect pregnant people from the flu during and after pregnancy and protect their infants in their first few months of life. More information, including links to various studies, can be found here.
Yes, there are no known interactions between the COVID vaccines and flu vaccines. No delays are needed to get the flu vaccine as long as you are not currently ill with a fever or other COVID symptoms.