Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation

DHHS Home | A-Z Site Map | Divisions | About Us | Contacts | En Español

NC Department of Health and Human Services
North Carolina Public Health: Influenza in North Carolina Home
N.C. Public Health Home

Questions and Answers

Do you have a question related to the flu that is not covered below? Please submit your question, and we will respond as quickly as possible. Some questions (and answers) may be added to the list below.

[+] Expand All Items Below | [-] Contract All Items Below

What are the best ways to prevent catching and spreading the flu?

  1. Get Vaccinated!!! External link
  2. Cover your nose and mouth External link (PDF, CDC's website) when you sneeze or cough.
  3. Sleep / Get Rest - a weakened immune system generally makes you more susceptible to illness.
  4. Wash your hands often with warm soap and water. Wash for 15 to 20 seconds. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands. More at CDC External link.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs can live for a long time (some can live for 2 hours or more) on surfaces like doorknobs, desks, and tables.
  6. Disinfect your environment at home and in the workplace. (Also see the CDC's Stopping the Spread of Germs at Home, Work, and School External link.) There are several chemical agents that can kill flu viruses, including (source: CDC FAQs External link):
    • Chlorine
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Detergents or soaps
    • Iodine-based antiseptics (substances that stop the growth of germs)
    • Alcohols (wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands)
  7. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  8. Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®).
  9. Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. As of July 1, 2005, people who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) External link.

What is the difference between a flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine?

There are two types of vaccines:

  • The "flu shot" — an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine —a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine" or FluMist®). LAIV (FluMist®) is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Will I get sick from a flu vaccination?

Flu shot:  The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever (low grade)
  • Aches

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last one to two days.

The nasal spray (also called LAIV or FluMist®): The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. (In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close contacts has occurred only rarely.)  In children, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include:

  • runny nose
  • wheezing
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • muscle aches
  • fever

In adults, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • cough