It’s Not Too Late to Vaccinate! Don’t Let the Flu Ruin Your Holidays

National Influenza Vaccine Week is December 7-13

December 4, 2014

(Warrenton, Va.)—Cases of the influenza or flu usually peak in the United States between December and February. National Influenza Vaccination Week aims to spread the message that it’s not too late to vaccinate! During the holiday season influenza can spread at family gatherings, special events and at crowded places – such as holiday gatherings and shopping malls. The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District suggests that getting a flu shot every year is the single best way to prevent the flu, and offers the following information about the flu, who should be vaccinated, and where you can get vaccinated.

The Flu vs. a Cold: What’s the Difference?

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold.

Symptoms of flu may include fever (though not everyone with flu will have a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue (tiredness), chills, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.

Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

Who Should Be Vaccinated Against the Flu?

Generally, everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. It’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. Babies under 6 months of age are too young to get vaccinated. Therefore, it’s vital for those who come in contact with babies under six months get vaccinated.

Additional groups at increased risk of complications from the flu include children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older, people with certain long-term medical conditions (e.g., lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes), or those with weak immune systems.

Where and How to get Vaccinated

Flu shots are available now at most pharmacies and clinics in drug stores, grocery stores and even big box retailers. Use the “Flu Vaccine Finder” at to find providers in your ZIP code.

There are different types of flu vaccines and different delivery methods. Your family doctor or health care professional can help you decide which formulation is best for you or your child. Trivalent vaccines protect against three strains of the flu. They are available as traditional flu shots, Intradermal shots, which use a shorter needle, high dose shots approved for people over 65, and shots for those with allergies to eggs. Quadivalent vaccines protect against four strains of the flu. They are available as traditional flu shots and as a nasal spray, approved for healthy people from age 2-49, except pregnant women.

How Else Can I Stay Healthy in Flu Season?

In addition to getting your flu shot, here are more ways to prevent flu and other illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home when you are sick. Stay away from people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance to protect others from getting sick too. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue and throw it away immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow to prevent germs from spreading through the air.
  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Soap and water are best, but if they are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs on surfaces can be picked up and spread when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. It helps to clean and disinfect surfaces at home, school and work – especially if someone is sick.
  • Support your general health. Reduce stress, get enough sleep, and exercise and eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids. A healthy body is better able to resist illness.

Additional information on flu is available from the Virginia Department of Health at

The Rappahannock -Rapidan Health District serves residents of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties. For more information about the services the health district provides,


NOTE TO MEDIA: Health District representatives are available for telephone or in-person interviews. To schedule an interview, contact Dr. Cee Ann Davis, Director, Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District at 540-316-6273 or Lorrie Andrew-Spear, Public Information Officer at 703-530-2627.