Preventing Influenza, Youth

    Learn more about our Patient Engagement products now! Turn your patients into active participants in their healthcare by giving them easy access to the same evidence-based information you trust – but delivered in an easy-to-understand format.

    Preventing Influenza, Teen

    Preventing Influenza, Teen

    Influenza, also known as the flu, is an infection caused by a virus. The flu mainly affects the nose, throat, and lungs (respiratory system). This infection causes common cold symptoms, as well as a high fever and body aches.

    The flu spreads easily from person to person (is contagious). The flu is most common from December through March. This period of time is called flu season. You can catch the flu virus by:
    • Breathing in droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze.
    • Touching something that recently got the virus on it (is contaminated) and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

    How can this condition affect me?

    If you get the flu, your friends and family are also at risk of getting it because the flu spreads easily to others.

    Having the flu can lead to complications, such as pneumonia, ear infection, and sinus infection. The flu also can be life-threatening, especially for babies, people older than age 65, and people who have serious long-term diseases.

    You can protect yourself and other people by:
    • Keeping your body's defense system (immune system) strong.
    • Getting a flu shot, or influenza vaccination, each year.
    • Practicing good health habits.

    What can increase my risk?

    You may be more likely to get the flu by:
    • Not washing or sanitizing your hands often.
    • Having close contact with many people during cold and flu season.
    • Touching your mouth, eyes, or nose without first washing or sanitizing your hands.
    • Not getting a flu shot each year.

    You may be at risk for more serious flu symptoms if:
    • You have a long-term illness.
    • You have severe obesity.
    • Your immune system is weak.
    • You are pregnant.

    What actions can I take to prevent this?


    You can lower your risk of getting the flu by keeping your immune system in good shape. Do this by:
    • Eating a healthy diet.
    • Drinking plenty of fluids. Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.
    • Getting enough sleep.
    • Exercising regularly.

    Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco. These products include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.


    Getting a flu shot every year can lower your risk of getting the flu. This is the best way to prevent the flu. A flu shot is recommended for everyone age 6 months or older. Remind your parents to take you to your health care provider, a local clinic, or a pharmacy for a flu shot.
    • It is best to get a flu shot in the fall, as soon as it is available. But getting a flu shot during winter or spring instead is still a good idea. Flu season can last into early spring.
    • Preventing the flu through vaccination means getting a new flu shot every year. This is because the flu virus changes slightly (mutates) from one year to the next. The flu shot does not completely protect you from all flu virus mutations. If you get the flu after you get your flu shot, the shot can make your illness milder and go away sooner. It can also prevent dangerous complications of the flu.
    • If you are pregnant, you can and should get a flu shot.
    • Check with your health care provider before getting a flu shot if you have had a reaction to the shot in the past or if you are allergic to eggs.
    • Sometimes the vaccine is available as a nasal spray. In some years, the nasal spray has not been as effective against the flu virus. Check with your health care provider if you have questions about this.

    Most young people recover from the flu by resting at home and drinking plenty of fluids. You or your parents may ask your health care provider whether you should take any over-the-counter cold medicines.

    There is also a prescription antiviral medicine that may reduce your flu symptoms and may make your flu go away sooner.
    • This medicine must be started within a few days of getting flu symptoms.
    • You or your parents may talk with your health care provider about whether you need an antiviral medicine. Your health care provider may recommend one if you have a condition that makes the flu worse or more dangerous for you.

    General information

    You can also lower your risk of getting the flu by practicing good health habits. This is especially important during flu season.
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick with flu or cold symptoms.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your hands to your face, especially when you have not washed your hands recently.
    • Use a cleanser that kills germs (a disinfectant) to clean surfaces that may have the flu virus on them.

    If you do get the flu, avoid spreading it to others by:
    • Staying home until your symptoms, including your fever, have been gone for at least 24 hours.
    • Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
    • Avoiding close contact with others, especially babies and older people.

    Where to find more information

    Contact a health care provider if:

    • You have the flu and you develop new symptoms.
    • You have a fever.
    • Your cough gets worse, or you produce more mucus.

    Get help right away if:

    • You have trouble breathing.
    • You have chest pain.

    These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.


    • The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot (influenza vaccination) every year in the fall.
    • Even if you get the flu after you have received the yearly flu shot, your flu may be milder and go away sooner because of your flu shot.
    • If you get the flu, antiviral medicines that are started within a few days of flu symptoms may reduce your symptoms and reduce how long the flu lasts.
    • You can also help prevent the flu by practicing good health habits.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

    Small Elsevier Logo

    Cookies are used by this site. To decline or learn more, visit our cookie notice.

    Copyright © 2024 Elsevier, its licensors, and contributors. All rights are reserved, including those for text and data mining, AI training, and similar technologies.

    Small Elsevier Logo
    RELX Group