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Originally published January 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Page modified January 4, 2013 at 10:22 PM

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Q&A: Some facts about the flu

Answers to common questions about the flu.

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Source: Washington State Department of Health

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Q: What is influenza ("flu")?

A: It's a highly contagious disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can cause moderate to severe illness.

Q: What are common symptoms of flu?

A: Fever. Cough. Sore throat. Runny or stuffy nose. Body aches. Fatigue. Headache.

If these symptoms are severe, contact a doctor, nurse or clinic as soon as possible.

The best way to tell if you have flu is for a health-care provider to swab your throat and have a lab confirm the diagnosis.

Q: How do you prevent the flu?

A: The best way is to get a flu shot each year as soon as vaccine is available. Using good health habits can also help stop the spread of flu: washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home when you're sick.

Q: How do I find a flu vaccine?

A: Call your doctor, nurse or clinic. Visit your local pharmacy. Contact your local health department. Or call the Family Health Hotline at 800-322-2588.

Q: Who should get flu vaccine?

A: Everyone six months and older should get a yearly flu shot.

People at greater risk are especially encouraged to get a flu vaccine. Those include:

• Older people.

• Young children, especially under 5 years old.

• Children and adults of any age with certain chronic health conditions or special health-care needs, such as asthma, diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurological conditions and certain other long-term health conditions.

• Pregnant women.

• Health-care professionals and caregivers of people in any of the above groups.

• American Indians/Alaska Natives.

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