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Statement from the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams on the Flu

Thursday, February 15, 2018
Contact: OASH Press Office
(202) 205-0143

Getting sick from the flu can be a lot worse than missing a few days away from work or school—it can be dangerous to your health and for others around you. Every year, millions of Americans needlessly suffer from flu and thousands will be hospitalized. It’s heartbreaking that there are still preventable deaths from flu every year.

The flu is a contagious respiratory virus that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.  Most people who become sick will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may become more severely ill.

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu-related illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.  The vaccine may also reduce the severity of symptoms if you catch the flu in spite of being vaccinated.  It is not too late to get the vaccinated for this year’s flu season.  

If you think you have been exposed to the flu, I encourage you to speak to your health care professional and remember:

  1. If you have symptoms of influenza - like fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea - stay home to help prevent spreading the flu to others.
  2. To reduce spreading infections, frequently wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  3. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started early in the illness.  If symptoms do not improve or worsen rapidly, you should seek medical attention immediately.

For more information on the flu, please check out these resources:

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Content created by Office of the Surgeon General
Content last reviewed on March 28, 2018