COVID Update: Masks are still required in health care settings, even if you’re fully vaccinated. Read our FAQs.

Flu Symptoms and Treatment

Flu vaccinations available

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

Flu vaccinations available

Scripps offers adult and pediatric flu vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the annual flu vaccination for everyone older than 6 months, with rare exceptions. The vaccination is especially important for pregnant women, adults older than 50 and anyone with a chronic medical condition. 


At this point in the flu season, flu shots are available for Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal Medical Center patients at their primary care doctor’s office. Call your primary care doctor’s office to schedule an appointment. 


Note: At the start of flu season every year, Scripps also offers convenient “flu clinics” to help meet high demand for flu shots in San Diego. Dates will range from September through December. Appointments are required. Check this page each flu season for flu clinic dates.

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.