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Flu FAQs

FAQs about the VUMC Influenza Vaccination Policy are found here. Managers' FAQs about the flu are located below.

Influenza, or flu, is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs that can make someone of any age ill.

Flu FAQs for Employees

  • When is flu season?

    Flu season in the United States is generally from about October through the end of March.

  • What are the symptoms of the flu?

    Typical symptoms are fever, chills, cough, and soreness and aching in your back, arms and legs.

  • How long does the flu last?

    Although most people are ill for only a few days, some people have a much more serious illness that could even result in a hospital visit.

  • Who should get a flu shot?

    Anyone wishing to reduce their chances of catching the flu should get the vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive an annual flu vaccine, with rare exception.

  • Who should NOT get a flu shot?

    Anyone with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. People with severe egg allergies can now take an egg-free flu vaccine called FluBlok. Those concerned about reactions to preservatives can now receive a preservative free flu vaccine.  Persons who are ill and have a fever should wait to take the shot until the fever or other symptoms are gone.

    Some people with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome should not get this vaccine; talk to your health care provider first.

  • How often do I need a flu shot?

    Because influenza viruses frequently change and because any immunity developed in the previous year possibly decreases, it is recommended that you receive the vaccination every year.

  • Can I get the flu from getting the shot?

    No. Since all viruses in the injectable vaccine are killed, this type of vaccine cannot infect anyone.

  • How long does it take to start working?

    The vaccine will begin to work about one to two weeks after you receive the vaccine.

  • Can I still get the flu after taking the shot?

    Flu vaccine lowers your risk of getting the flu by 60%. You could still get the flu, but you are less likely to have complications or die.

  • Is the flu just like a bad cold?

    No. Influenza is far more dangerous. It's a disease of the lungs that can lead to pneumonia. Each year about 114,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized. Those most severely affected are children under 2 and adults over 65.

  • Are there side effects from the flu shot?

    Very few! The worst side effect you're likely to get is a sore arm. The risk of a rare allergic reaction is far less than the risk of severe complications from influenza. Flu shots do not cause cold symptoms.

  • Can I take the flu shot if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Yes! Flu shots are recommended for pregnant women, especially those in their second and third trimesters because of the risk of influenza, which could complicate pregnancy. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby for several months after birth from flu.

Flu FAQs for Managers

  • My employee has flu symptoms – what should I do?

    ​For guidance on treatment and work status, you can direct employees to use the flu tool. As a rule of thumb, if they have a fever (over 100.4F) and respiratory symptoms, they should not be at work.

  • My employee has been out with the flu. When can s/he return?

    ​When they have had no fever for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.

  • Should my employee be tested for flu?

    ​Testing is not necessary for the outpatient management of flu-like illness. The guidelines for working with flu-like illness apply whether the virus is proven to be influenza or not. There are many other respiratory viruses that can cause influenza like illness.

  • Should my employee be treated with antivirals?

    ​Treatment decisions should be between the employee and his/her healthcare provider. Antiviral treatment is only recommended for people at high risk of flu complications for hospitalization. In studies, antiviral treatment only shortens the duration of the illness by about 1/2 day.

  • If my employee wants to see a medical provider, where can I send them?

    We do encourage patients to contact their PCP's office first, whenever feasible. Often their PCP can see them or advise them over the phone. Occupational Health offers walk-in visits at our Faculty/Staff Express Care, 7:30am – 2:00pm, M-F, and we also see employees for scheduled sick visits at our main clinic at 640 Medical Arts. Employees can call 6-0955 for assistance. ​

  • Can my employee get a sick note from OHC?

    No, sick notes are not required under Vanderbilt policy. Sick notes do not erase an occurrence.