Flu and Vaccination
On this page:
About flu vaccination:
- How can I be vaccinated at UHS?
- Why be vaccinated?
- How effective is flu vaccine?
- When is the best time to get vaccinated?
- Who should be vaccinated?
- Who should NOT be vaccinated?
- Side effects
- What is flu?
- See a clinician if you experience these complications
- Does past flu infection make a person immune?
UHS offers preservative-free flu shots for UM-affiliated individuals, ages 10 and older. Please schedule an appointment and allow at least 30 minutes for your visit.
To schedule, call 734-764-8325.
Cost is $42. Payment is expected at visit. UHS accepts major credit/debit cards, cash and personal checks. Enrolled students can bill to a student account.
Does my insurance cover a flu shot? The following insurance plans will cover the cost in full: U-M Premier Care, GradCare, Domestic Student Health Insurance Plan (Aetna), International Student/Scholar Health Insurance Plan (Aetna), Medicare.
BlueCross BlueShield may cover in full or in part, depending on your plan -- please ask them.
Other insurance: Consult your insurance. Coverage is determined by your insurance company, and you are responsible for paying any cost not covered by your insurance. UHS will not bill other insurance plans but will provide a receipt upon request.
Why be vaccinated? Annual vaccination against seasonal flu may help to prevent illness, severity of flu and serious complications caused by flu. People who receive the vaccine miss less class or work due to illness. Also, the vaccine helps prevent others from getting the flu from you.
How effective is flu vaccine? When there is a good match between vaccine and circulating viruses, flu vaccine is at least 70% effective in preventing illness in healthy children and adults. Flu vaccine can also reduce the severity of symptoms if you get the flu. Flu vaccine affects only the influenza virus and has no effect on colds.
For more information about the flu vaccine this year, see the Vaccine Information Statement (PDF).
When is the best time to get vaccinated? The best time to receive your shot is as soon as it is availble, because protection develops about 2 weeks after vaccination. Flu is typically seasonal, appearing December through March in Michigan. A flu shot is needed each year before the winter season because flu strains vary from year to year.
Who should be vaccinated? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu. Those at higher risk of flu complications, or those who live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu complications, should definitely get vaccinated. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for recommendations.
- People who have a life-threatening allergy to eggs or other vaccine ingredients
- People with life-threatening reaction to any previoius vaccine
- People who have had Guillain-Barre syndome
The 1976 swine flu vaccine was associated with an increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Subsequent flu vaccines have not had causal relationships demonstrated. If risk exists, it would be less than one to two cases per million vaccines, which is much less than the risk of flu complications.
What is flu? Flu (short for influenza) is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. It is much like a chest cold but usually more severe. There are two main types of virus: A and B. Each type includes many different strains which tend to change each year.
Transmission: Influenza is highly contagious and is easily transmitted through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person during coughing and sneezing. Flu may be transmitted one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after you get sick.
- Rapid onset of symptoms
- Fever (greater than 100.4 degrees or 38 degrees C)
- Headache and/or body aches
- Tiredness (can be extreme)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)
Acute symptoms usually last 3-5 days, although a cough may linger for up to three weeks.
Complications are rare in young, otherwise healthy adults, but the elderly and persons with underlying health problems are at increased risk for complications such as pneumonia.
- Cough that is severe and persistent or produces bloody phlegm
- Sore throat that lasts longer than 10 days
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
You can print a poster of When to Seek Medical Care (PDF).
Does past flu infection make a person immune? Generally, no. The viruses that cause flu change frequently, so people who have been infected or had a flu shot in previous years may become infected with a new strain. Because of this, and because any immunity produced by the flu shot will decrease in the year after vaccination, people should get vaccinated every year in order to be protected.
Treatment usually consists of resting, drinking fluids and taking non-prescription medicine. For fever and pain, take Tylenol (acetaminophen), two 325mg tablets every 4 hours for adults. (People under age 19 should not take aspirin due to the association with Reye's syndrome.) For cough relief, take Robitussin DM. For multiple symptoms, take NyQuil or DayQuil. Generic medicines are available. Follow package directions.
Antibiotics are ineffective against flu because it is a viral (not bacterial) infection. However, antibiotics may be used to treat flu complications, such as pneumonia or middle ear infection.
Antiviral drugs (e.g. Tamiflu) are available to high-risk patients by prescription and may decrease severity and duration of illness if taken within 48 hours of symptoms onset. To consider antiviral treatment, Schedule an Appointment as soon as possible after symptoms begin.
- Get vaccinated.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others and if possible, stay at home.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hand) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based cleanser.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
You can print free materials:
See also How is Flu Treated? for information about the use of antiviral drugs in flu prevention.
- UHS offers medical advice by phone 24/7. This may save a trip to UHS, the ER or an urgent care facility. See Medical Advice by Phone.
- Become a Facebook fan of UHS
- Print a poster of When to Seek Medical Care (PDF)
- UM Pandemic Flu Website
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on flu
- The Immunization Action Coalition Vaccine Information Statements are available in multiple languages (use Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these PDF files).