About the Flu

Flu Basics

Mom reading thermometer with hand on child's forehead

Influenza viruses cause flu. The viruses spread from person to person when infected people cough, sneeze or touch objects. Flu can be mild or severe, and can even cause death. Older people, children under 5 (especially children under 2), pregnant women and people with certain health conditions are at a higher risk for serious complications from the flu.

During the 2019–2020 flu season, at least 188 children died from flu and flu-associated illness. Thousands more children were hospitalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most of the children who died had not received a flu vaccination.

Flu season usually begins in December and lasts until April in the United States. It's best to get the vaccine in September or October, but it’s never too late to get the vaccine at any point until April. See Flu Vaccination for Current Patients and Families to learn when vaccinations are available at Seattle Children's. 

We work closely with Public Health – Seattle and King County, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep you informed during flu season.

Flu and COVID-19

COVID-19 is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 and the flu spread from person to person when infected people cough, sneeze, talk or touch objects. People can spread flu or COVID-19 to others even before they have symptoms.

The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19, but it’s important to get the flu vaccine so the healthcare system isn’t overloaded if there are more surges of COVID-19. Flu vaccine can also help you prevent getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. There is not a vaccine available to prevent COVID-19 yet, but doctors and scientists are working on one.

More on Flu Symptoms and Prevention

Reminder: Visitors who are sick or have been exposed to an illness should not come to the hospital.

Information updated: September 3, 2020