- Seasonal Flu
- Pandemic Flu Preparedness
The Hawaii State Department of Health reminds everyone that they can call 2-1-1 for H1N1 and seasonal flu information. The toll-free information and referral service is available statewide, Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Influenza, commonly called the “flu,” is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs). Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause a more severe illness and possibly life-threatening complications.
You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:
Influenza is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. You can take everyday actions to stay healthy:
You may be at risk for serious complications from the flu if you:
Some complications of flu include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Children may develop sinus problems and ear infections.
Tests are available that can determine if you have the flu as long as you are tested within the first two or three days after your symptoms begin. In addition, a doctor’s examination may be needed to determine whether a person has another infection that is a complication of the flu.
If you develop the flu, you should do the following:
Note: Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics (like penicillin) won’t work. However, if started within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms, an antiviral, such as oseltamivir, may decrease the symptoms and/or decrease the length of the illness. You should consult your doctor to determine whether such treatment is appropriate for you.
The flu generally occurs during the winter months. Countries in the northern hemisphere, including the United States, tend to see more flu between the months of October and May. The flu season officially begins on October 1st of each year, and continues through mid-May of the following year. Although Hawaii experiences a flu season, we tend to see flu year round because of our tropical climates and tourist populations.
Vaccination is your best protection against the flu. There are two types of flu vaccines:
An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine.
Call your doctor or visit a flu immunization clinic. For a list of flu immunization clinics statewide, click here or call 2-1-1.
You should get vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available. Vaccination before December is recommended to provide protection before flu activity is typically at its highest. Vaccination in December or later is also beneficial because although influenza disease usually peaks in January or February most years, disease can occur as late as May
YES. The flu vaccine can prevent 70 to 90 percent of people who receive it from developing moderate-to-severe flu infections
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available and before the flu season really gets under way.
The flu vaccine gets updated every year. Flu viruses change from year to year so each year’s flu vaccine is made specifically to protect you from flu virus strains circulating that year. The immunity that you develop from previous year’s flu vaccines do not protect you from new flu strains, making it important to get vaccinated against flu every year.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide full protection against flu. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. Also, the flu vaccine will not protect against flu virus strains not in the flu vaccine or other viruses that cause symptoms similar to the flu.