Frequently Asked Questions

What is the flu?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.

How dangerous is the flu?

The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

How does the flu spread?

Health experts believe flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.

How can I prevent the flu?

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every season, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for everyone 6 months of age or older. Health experts also recommend avoiding close contact with sick people, washing hands frequently, keeping children home from school when sick and not sharing cups or utensils.

Can I get the flu from a flu shot?

No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines are made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.

Is it too late to get the flu shot?

No. Vaccination can still be beneficial as long as flu viruses are circulating. Flu is unpredictable and seasons can vary. Seasonal flu disease usually peaks between December and March most years, but disease can occur as late as May.

What does Vidant Health do to protect patients?

Vidant’s temporary changes to our visitation practices is one way we help protect patients and limit exposure to the flu. We also do our part to protect patients, their loved ones, our colleagues and the community by requiring team members to have flu shots each year or ensuring they are approved for a medical or religious exemption from vaccination.

Why do you limit visitation by children under the age of 12 during the flu season?

It’s important to us that we make every effort to protect the health and well-being of patients, visitors and Vidant team members. Children are sick more often than adults and aren’t usually as effective at preventing the spread of germs. In many cases, children may not know they are sick or do not exhibit symptoms and yet are still able to spread infection.

Do you ever make exceptions to temporary visitation practices?

Yes. Healthy children under the age of 12 may visit their healthy newborn sibling. Additional exceptions may be made in special circumstances—or with prior approval from the patient’s health care team.

Where can I learn more?

The CDC offers a number of resources for the flu, including what you need to know about the illness, how to prevent it, what to do to treat it and current statistics on this year’s flu season.

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