As flu season collides with a pandemic, do all you can to protect yourself and your community.

Your Health, Family Health, Primary Care

Stay Ahead of This Year's Flu Season Using this Comprehensive Guide

Each year, millions of Americans get sick with the flu. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can even lead to death. Here, experts weigh in on important steps you or your family should take in order to stay healthy. 

Flu season doesn't pause for a pandemic. To help keep you and your families healthy throughout the 2020-21 season, we’re here to help you and your families prepare.

(1) Why This Year's Flu Vaccine is More Important than Ever

As flu season collides with a pandemic, do all you can to protect yourself and your community.

(2) What You Need to Know this Flu Season

 Re-familiarize yourself with what the flu is, how it spreads and the best prevention techniques. And if you do get sick, know how to find the most convenient care. 

(3) Pregnant and Trying to Conceive? Don’t Skip the Flu Shot

With flu season lasting from October to May, messages urging every American to roll up their sleeves for their flu shot. One group that especially shouldn’t skip the flu shot is expectant mothers and women who are trying to conceive. 

(4) Parents’ Top Flu Questions About Children Answered

Whether you’re an expecting parent, a new parent or a seasoned veteran, we all have questions about kids and the flu. Rhonda Patt, MD, medical director, Charlotte Pediatric Clinic, has answers to some of the top questions that parents when it comes to the flu and their children. 

(5) 5 Simple Ways to Prevent the Flu

Every year, you hear about new ways to prevent the flu. Elderberry syrup and Greek yogurt, zinc and acupuncture – they’re all touted to fight the flu. But the truth is, they’re not all proven to work; in fact, some aren’t even proven to be safe. Fortunately, these 5 tips for preventing the flu are doctor-approved and oh, so simple.    

(6) Why Those with Diabetes Shouldn't Skip the Flu Shot

For people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, avoiding the flu is especially important. Those with the disease, even when well-managed, are at a higher risk of certain flu-related health complications, including pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections or worsening of existing health conditions. That’s why it’s so important to get a flu shot in order to lower your risks of developing serious flu-related complications.

(7) So You Think You've Got the Flu, Now What? 

If you believe you might have the flu, there are some symptoms to look out for and ways to treat them. Andres Sanchez, MD, explains what to do if you suspect you have the flu and when to seek medical care.

(8) Knowing Where to Go for Healthcare Is as Simple as Ordering Coffee

If you need to see a doctor, it's important to know where to go. At Atrium Health, "we have an app for that." So, seeing a doctor is as easy as ordering a coffee from your favorite app. Now, to break down the pathway to healthcare in a way that makes sense – think about getting your healthcare the same way you order your coffee: Tall, Grande, Venti.

Get care when you need it the most. Visit to make an online reservation today.

Is the flu going around near you? Download the new Sneez App to see what is going around in your area and to report your symptoms. The Sneez App is free and available to download in the App Store or Google Play. Learn more about the Sneez App.

Flu FAQs

Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by viruses. Keep reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches and/or body aches and pain
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

How can people tell they have the flu versus COVID-19?

These two viruses can present very similarly – both often have muscle aches, fatigue, fevers, cough, and congestion. COVID-19 more commonly has loss of taste and smell and GI symptoms such as diarrhea, but in general for this upcoming flu season it will be challenging to tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 without a test.

What should I do if I think I have the flu or COVID-19?

Stay home if you are sick to avoid infecting other people, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask if you do have to go out in public and talk to your doctor about getting tested for flu, COVID-19 or both.  The primary treatment for both is supportive (fluids, fever lowering medicine as needed, etc.).

If I get vaccinated, can I still get the flu?

Yes, but vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. And if you’re vaccinated and still catch the flu, the vaccine can actually help reduce the severity of your symptoms or shorten how long you’re sick.

How does the flu spread?

Like COVID-19, the flu is spread mainly from person to person, usually through coughing, sneezing and talking. It’s also possible to catch the flu by touching something with the flu virus on it, then touching your mouth or nose or eyes.

You’re most likely to catch the flu during late fall, winter and early spring.

Considering the dual risk of flu and COVID-19 this fall and winter, should we change how we protect ourselves from a contagious virus?

Continue with the current protective measures that we have in place and should be doing all the time during the current pandemic: wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth (single layer cloth masks or gaiters seem to provide less protection), practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others, stay home when sick, wash your hands regularly and avoid group gatherings. These measures are going to stand throughout this entire year, at minimum.

How long is the flu contagious?

You can spread the flu before you even know you’re sick, as well as after most symptoms have gone away.

Adults with the flu are contagious as early as one day before any symptoms appear and if a week or more after they start feeling sick. Children can be contagious for even longer.

Are there medicines to treat the flu?

Yes. But most people with mild cases of the flu don’t need medication.  

Flu medications should only be considered if you’re sick enough to go to the hospital or if you have conditions that put you at risk for more serious flu complications – like pneumonia, lung disease or a weakened immune system.

Your healthcare provider will decide if your illness requires flu medication.