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Flu Patient Education

key to prevention

Preparing your patients for flu season

Learn strategies for addressing vaccine hesitation and ensuring your patients are armed with the knowledge they need to stay healthy.

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It is important to educate patients that a yearly influenza vaccine and good health habits are the most effective ways to prevent flu. Discussing the flu prevention measures below recommended by the CDC can reduce the likelihood of getting and spreading influenza.

Prevention messages to discuss with your patients:

  • Obtain a yearly influenza vaccine.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizers to use when soap and water are not available.
  • Limit close interactions with individuals who are sick and avoid close contact with others if you are infected.
  • Sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
  • Throw used tissues away in the trash after use.
  • Carry disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces when possible.
  • Eat a healthy diet, exercise and get plenty of rest.

Vaccine hesitancy

Osteopathic physicians and their teams must be ready to respond to individuals who may be hesitant about the vaccine and discuss concerns with patients. Below is information to provide to patients with vaccine hesitancy:

Immunization is safe

Many individuals have no side effects from the flu shot and most side effects from the vaccine are mild and resolve within a few days. It is very rare to have a severe allergic reaction following the vaccination. Millions of individuals have safely received flu vaccines for over 50 years. Each year, CDC and the Food and Drug Administration closely monitor the safety of vaccines.

Immunization saves lives

The CDC estimates that there have been 12,000 – 52,000 deaths from the flu annually between 2010 and 2020 and that the flu vaccination prevented over 6,300 influenza-associated deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season.

Immunization keeps you out of the hospital

The flu vaccine prevents millions of individuals from becoming ill each year and the need for many flu-related doctor’s visits. It is estimated that having a flu vaccine reduces the likelihood of having to go to the doctor for treatment by 40-60 percent and prevented at least 7.5 million influenza illnesses in 2019-2020. The vaccine also prevents over 100,000 hospitalizations each year.

Immunization may cause aches and local swelling but is part of the  normal immune response

If an individual feels any side effects from the flu vaccine, they usual are very mild and may consist of one of more of the following: soreness, redness, swelling in the arm; headache; muscle aches; fatigue; fever; and nausea. These side effects are short-lived and go away on their own within a few days and it is very rare to have severe side effects from the vaccine. It is recommended that if an individual has a history of severe egg allergy, they should receive their vaccination in a medical setting with health care providers who are able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. There are 2 egg-free flu vaccine options available.

Additional resources

The following resources and materials are free to download and print for distribution to patients. In some cases, copies of materials can be ordered free from the CDC.


How does flu make you sick? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

Key Facts About Influenza Vaccinations (National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention):

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