The flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The flu is spread to others through tiny droplets that are made when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. The influenza virus infects cells in your body, which causes inflammation and leads to the symptoms that make you feel sick.

Flu symptoms typically come on suddenly and include some or all of the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting, diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

Preventing the Flu

With flu season just around the corner, it’s time for you to get a flu shot for the 2023-2024 flu season. Getting a flu vaccination this year is important — not only to reduce your risk from flu, but also to prevent community spread and keep everyone as healthy as possible. The flu vaccine protects you from getting sick with flu and reduces the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick.

Where can I safely get a flu shot?

We encourage you to get a flu shot wherever it’s convenient for you. Many local pharmacies and retailers offer walk-in vaccinations. You can also receive your flu shot through the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network through one of the options listed below.

Before You Arrive

  • We recommend a short-sleeved shirt.
  • We accept most insurance plans. Before you come in, please check with your insurance regarding coverage.

You do NOT need to have a provider at a location or be a patient at a Froedtert & MCW location to get your flu shot at any of the options below. Existing patients who have a primary care appointment can ask their provider about a flu shot at the time of their visit.


This Season's Flu Vaccine Products

We will offer the following products for this upcoming season.

  • Preferred Products
    • Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, 65 years and older
    • Fluzone Quadrivalent, 6 months to 64 years
    • Fluarix Quadrivalent, 6 months to 64 years
  • Alternative Products
    • FluMist Quadrivalent, 2 years to 49 years with a severe aversion to injectables; restricted to outpatient use only

How Flu Virus Spreads

The flu virus most often spreads through coughs and sneezes by an infected person when respiratory fluid becomes airborne. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object, such as a table or a doorknob, that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

You can pass the flu on to someone else before you show symptoms or after you know you are sick. Flu symptoms begin one to four days after the virus is in the body. According to the CDC, a healthy adult who becomes sick may infect others one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children and some people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for more than seven days.

If you have the flu, it is best to stay home from work or school. Try to rest and recover. This will help prevent the virus from spreading to others.

How to Treat the Flu

The flu, like the common cold, is a virus. It starts suddenly and usually develops with a bad sore throat, body aches, high fever (above 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and, at times, a runny nose.

If you think you may have the flu, talk to your doctor. The flu can last for 10 to 14 days, and antibiotics cannot make it go away. Get plenty of rest and make sure you drink extra fluids to stay hydrated. 

There are antiviral medications that can shorten the duration of the flu, if the medications are given early. Antiviral medications are important in controlling the flu, but they are not a substitute for the vaccination.

When to Seek Care for the Flu

Most people with the flu do not need medical care. However, if you are at a high risk for severe illness (young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions) or you become very sick, you should contact your primary care provider.

Usually, flu and other respiratory illnesses begin with mild or moderate symptoms. In these instances, FastCare®, walk-in clinics, urgent care or your primary care physician’s office are ready to treat you. Another option is a virtual clinic visit, where a board-certified physician can provide care through your phone, tablet or laptop’s webcam.

Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to rouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Flu Care Options — Fast and Nearby

Feel like you may have the flu? Experiencing fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat? Many people think of the Emergency Department first, but it should normally be your last resort.

  • Virtual Clinic — Log on to speak with a board-certified family medicine provider via webcam for $49.
  • Same-Day Care — Find locations and wait times. Flu shots available.
  • Primary Care Provider — Contact your primary care provider for an appointment. Don't have a primary care provider? We can help you find one.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Flu

  • The timing of flu season can vary slightly each year. Typically, flu activity begins to increase in October, with the peak of flu season between December and February. However, you can get the flu anytime of the year.

  • The state of Wisconsin does not require flu shots for individuals. However, the CDC highly recommends everyone six months and older receive a flu shot every year.

  • You should get a flu shot before the flu virus starts spreading in your community each year. It takes about two weeks after getting the flu vaccine for the body to develop antibodies and build immunity against the virus.

    Fall is the best time to receive your flu shot, ideally September or October. The CDC recommends you receive a flu shot by the end of October each year.

  • With flu season upon us, we encourage everyone to get both the flu vaccine and all COVID-19 vaccinations appropriate for them. The COVID-19 and flu vaccines train your immune system to protect you against completely different viruses. Getting a shot that protects you against one virus will not offer any protection against the other.

  • You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same time. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, and possible side effects after getting vaccinated are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.

  • Everyone six months and older should receive the flu shot annually. Your immune protection from the vaccine wears down over time, so getting the flu shot each year is your best protection against the flu. Flu viruses are also constantly changing, so the vaccine is reviewed every year and updated based on which influenza viruses are most common that year to give you the best protection possible.

  • To update your flu vaccination records, log in to MyChart. From the MyChart homepage, navigate to the menu and select "Preventive Care." Then, mark your seasonal flu immunization as complete.

  • It is possible to get the flu after getting the flu shot. However, the flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu, reduces the severity of your illness if you do get it and reduces your chances of hospitalization, severe complications and death. In addition to getting the flu shot, you should continue to take preventive measures to avoid the spread of the flu. These include:

    • Covering coughs
    • Frequent hand washing
    • Avoiding people who are sick
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and frequently touched objects regularly
  • The only way to truly identify your illness is with testing. Symptoms of the flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses can be similar, so you cannot tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. If you are experiencing flu or COVID-19 symptoms, contact your provider for the next steps on testing and care.

    Flu Symptoms

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Fatigue
    • Vomiting, diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

    COVID-19 Symptoms

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • Stay home and get plenty of rest. Avoid close contact with others in your house to avoid spreading the flu to them. Drink plenty of water and clear fluids, as it is important to stay hydrated.

    If you become very sick, are pregnant, are age 65 or older, or are otherwise at high risk for flu complications, call your primary care provider.

  • There are antiviral drugs that may be used as a treatment for the flu. Antiviral drugs can help lessen your flu symptoms, prevent serious complications and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days. These treatments require a prescription from your health care provider.

  • How long the flu lasts depends on the severity of your illness and overall health. Symptoms usually appear one to four days after exposure to the flu virus and typically last about five days. Symptoms typically will go away within one to two weeks. The CDC recommends staying home for 24 hours after your fever has gone away and you no longer need to use fever-reducing medicine.

  • While most cases of the flu are mild, serious cases can cause severe illness, hospitalization, severe complications and even death. It is important for everyone six months and older to receive the flu shot and take preventive measures to stop the spread of germs.

  • The first and most important step in protecting yourself and others against the flu is getting the flu shot. Everyone six months or older should receive a flu shot annually. The flu vaccine reduces your chances of getting the flu, reduces the severity of your illness if you do get it, and reduces your chances of hospitalization, severe complications and death.

    It is also important to take everyday preventive measures to stop the spread of the flu, including:

    • Covering coughs
    • Frequent hand washing
    • Avoiding people who are sick
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and frequently touched objects regularly