Flu: FAQ


Who should be vaccinated for the flu?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine every year.

When should I be vaccinated?
Get your yearly flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine is available. In Minnesota, flu season often extends into May, so you can continue to get your vaccine into the spring if you didn’t get it during with fall or winter months.

You can receive walk-in flu immunizations at all Park Nicollet Clinic locations. It also is available within many Park Nicollet specialty departments. Call your nearest clinic to schedule a nurse-only vaccination appointment, or ask to receive a vaccine at another scheduled appointment.

How can I know if I have the flu or a common cold?
Learn the difference with Signs and Symptoms of Influenza vs. Common Cold.

I think I have the flu. Can I treat it at home?
Learn recommended self-treatment guidelines and the possible danger signs and complications that signal the need for immediate medical attention.

What should I do if I am at high risk for complications and start having flu-like symptoms?
Check with your doctor promptly as antiviral drugs may be a treatment option.

Are antibiotics effective against the flu?
No. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections. The flu and most cases of acute bronchitis (another name for a "chest cold") are caused by viruses. Doctors will sometimes treat the flu and bronchitis with antiviral medications. But antibiotics can’t treat these conditions, prevent their spread or ease their symptoms. It’s important to use antibiotics only when they’re necessary, because bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics over time. You can help keep antibiotics effective by not taking them to treat the flu, bronchitis or other viral infections.

Are there other medicines that can treat the flu?
Your clinician may recommend influenza antiviral medications. These medications can reduce the severity of influenza symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one to two days. They also may make you less contagious to other people. Antiviral drugs must be started within two days after you get sick.

Two influenza antiviral drugs are recommended for use in the United States: oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamavir (Relenza). Side effects are different for each drug. It is important to remember that influenza antiviral drugs are not a substitute for getting the influenza vaccine.

When should I seek medical help? Are there danger signs I should watch for?

Seek urgent medical attention if your child has any of these danger signs:

  • Fast breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluid
  • Severe vomiting or vomiting that continues awhile
  • Not waking up or not interacting (being listless)
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough. This could be a sign of pneumonia. 

Seek urgent medical attention if you have any of these danger signs:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • New or sudden confusion
  • Severe vomiting or vomiting that continues awhile
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough. This could be a sign of pneumonia.

Why does Park Nicollet charge more for the flu vaccine than retail pharmacies?
Flu vaccines administered at retail pharmacies are priced below the typical market rate to encourage people to come into their stores knowing that they will likely purchase other items. Park Nicollet the flu influenza vaccine to patients as part of comprehensive health care. We are unable to provide our flu vaccine below cost.

Where can I learn more about the flu?
Influenza (Flu) - Minnesota Dept. of Health
CDC - Seasonal Influenza (Flu)