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Flu Symptoms and Treatment

Flu shots offered in September

A man receiving his annual flu shot at a clinic whil wearing a mask

Flu shots offered in September

Scripps offers convenient flu vaccine clinics for adults and children to receive the annual vaccine at most Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal Medical Centers.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone older than 6 months, with rare exceptions. According to the CDC, the optimal time to receive the vaccine is in late September or in October before flu viruses begin spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu.  


Scripps offers two ways to get a flu vaccine:


  1. Scripps offers “flu vaccine clinics” to help meet the high demand for flu shots in San Diego. Appointments are required. You can schedule your flu vaccine conveniently through MyScripps or by calling your primary care physician’s office.*
  2. Flu vaccines are also offered during your regularly scheduled appointment at your primary care physician’s office.


*Please note: Only flu vaccines are available at flu clinics. If you require additional vaccines, such as the pneumonia vaccine, please consult with your primary care provider.

Flu virus FAQs

Many people misunderstand what the flu is and how it's spread. Get the facts and learn how to stay well this flu season.

Do I need a flu shot every year?

Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommends getting the flu shot annually for everyone 6 months and older, with few exceptions. The flu shot is modified every year to match the flu strains that are expected to cause the majority of flu cases during the season. 


Check with your doctor before receiving the flu vaccine if any of the following apply to you:


  • Have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
  • Had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination
  • Had Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever

How long does the flu last?

For most healthy individuals, the flu typically lasts a week. The most severe symptoms usually subside in two or three days. If you have an underlying condition, such as emphysema or another chronic illness, symptoms like fatigue, weakness and a cough often last up to two weeks.

When is flu season?

In the United States, flu season occurs annually beginning in the fall. Flu activity usually increases in October and November and peaks between December and February. The flu season can last as late as May.

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

Early symptoms of a cold and the flu can be similar, including congestion, coughing and fatigue. However, flu symptoms come on rapidly and may include high fever, body aches and pains, headaches, chest congestion and a cough. In general, the flu is more severe than the common cold, with more intense symptoms. 


The common cold usually starts slowly. Symptoms that are not typical of the flu are a stuffy or runny nose and sore throat. 


Learn more about the differences between the flu and the common cold.

How is the flu treated?

Most cases of the flu are treated primarily with bed rest and plenty of fluids. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help with symptoms. Fever reducers, antihistamines, decongestants and cough medicines may help relieve symptoms.  


Prescription antiviral flu drugs may be a treatment option if you are at high risk of serious flu complications. When started within two days of becoming sick, antiviral drugs can decrease the severity and duration of flu symptoms and prevent flu complications. 


Always check with your doctor about the treatment plan that is right for you or a loved one. 

Is the flu contagious?

Yes, the flu is contagious. You are most contagious in the first three to four days after the illness begins. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.