Influenza (flu)

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
A person with the flu wearing pajamas sips a cup of tea.

Not every virus gets its own “season,” but influenza—commonly known as the flu—is known to make its rounds each winter (and often in the fall and spring, too).

The flu is a contagious viral infection that attacks the respiratory system (throat, nose, and lungs). The degree of illness can range from mild to severe and can include fever, body aches, cough, headache, and sore throat.

Typically, the virus resolves on its own, but in extreme cases, or especially for the very vulnerable, including infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, it can lead to hospitalization—and even death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to protect yourself or your family from getting the flu virus is with an annual flu vaccine. Our physicians at Yale Medicine—from adult care to pediatrics—agree. “Prevention is key,” says Annette Cameron, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatrician. “Get your flu shot. Even if the vaccine isn’t always the perfect match, it might at least reduce the severity of the flu if you get it.”  

If you do get the flu—and especially if you run into complications—our specialists across many fields are equipped to help.