For information on the coronavirus vaccine and your benefits as a Network Health member, click here.

Network Health Blog

Why Flu Prevention is Such a Hot Topic This Time of Year

paper with the word antibiotics on it

Are There Antibiotics for the Flu?

By Jessica Griesbach, RN, BSN at Network Health

Among the reasons many people find winter to be a tough season for ongoing health, the flu is perhaps the most debilitating. A product of the seasonal influenza virus, the flu spreads person to person, causing illnesses that range from a day of unpleasant symptoms to life-threatening danger.

Because the flu affects people differently and can have a disproportionately negative effect on young children, older people, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, preventing an outbreak is an important part of keeping our communities healthy and strong.

Typically administered in a shot, the flu vaccine is the expert-recommended way to avoid these potentially lethal flu outbreaks. During a year in which the novel coronavirus is expected to be spreading as well, , immunizing against the flu is more important than ever before.

>>> READ MORE: 4 Myths About the Flu Shot <<<

But why is it necessary to immunize against the flu rather than treat it once symptoms develop? Other illnesses have antibiotics that can fight them off after you manifest symptoms. Let’s dig into why vaccines, and not antibiotics, are recommended for the flu.

Can I Take an Antibiotic for the Flu?

Infections are typically caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. The flu is caused by a virus, which means antibiotics do not work. The viral nature of the flu means that preventing an outbreak involves working to prevent, rather than react to, the infection. This is best done, on an individual level, by being vaccinated.

Not only will taking antibiotics for the flu not make you feel better, but it can also cause harm. Minor to severe side effects can occur when taking antibiotics for a non-bacterial infection. Some of those side effects may include rash, antibiotic-resistant infections (difficult to cure) and C. diff infection (which is hard to treat and characterized by severe diarrhea).

How Do I Treat the Flu?

If you do wind up getting the flu, as many statistically will this winter, you are not out of options. Your personal doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to help slow the virus’ spread and limit its symptoms. Additionally, antiviral medication can shorten the duration of the flu and prevent serious complications.

Although over-the-counter medications cannot cure the flu, your personal doctor may recommend them to help relieve your symptoms. Be mindful when giving over-the-counter medications to children. Verify the appropriate and correct dosage with your personal doctor or pharmacist prior to administration.

Can I Take Steps to Prevent the Flu?

As with most infections, small steps that are taken to prevent getting the flu only help. The first line of defense against the flu is receiving the annual flu vaccine.

Other ways to help prevent yourself from getting the flu include avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

With Proper Flu Prevention, a Great Winter Season Awaits

Seasonal ailments like the flu have the potential to make the fall and winter season a tough one. While eliminating the flu entirely seems like a far-away goal, taking small steps like receiving the flu shot, avoiding those who are ill and practicing personal hygiene are great ways to enjoy the season.

For more information on how your health plan can help you get the most out of every season, contact us today.


Network Health
1570 Midway Place
Menasha, WI 54952
Mon., Wed.-Fri.: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.