Health Department

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administration office at 10777 Main Street in Fairfax is open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Clinic services are not offered at this location.
703-246-2411 TTY 711
10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of Health

Influenza (Flu)

Everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get a yearly flu vaccine and take other steps to prevent the spread of flu.
Find a flu vaccine at


Woman sitting on sofa covering her nose and mouth with a tissue and reading a thermometer in her handInfluenza, known as the flu, is a highly contagious infection of the breathing system (nose, throat and lungs) caused by flu viruses.

Some people are at higher risk of serious flu complications, such as people 65 years and older, young children, and people with certain health conditions.  

The CDC recommend that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu EVERY year, especially people who are at high risk.

Monitoring Flu Activity

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Fairfax County Health Department monitor the level of activity of influenza-like illness (ILI) each week from October through May. Those are the months when flu is most likely to occur in Virginia, and that time period is referred to as the “flu season.”

We track:

  • Influenza deaths in Fairfax County.
  • Number of students absent from Fairfax County schools.
  • Influenza-like illnesses reported from specific medical offices in Fairfax County.
  • Influenza-like illness and respiratory illness hospital emergency department and selected urgent care visits.
  • Selected laboratory data.

This information is used to:

  • Determine outbreaks.
  • Track patterns of illnesses.
  • Measure illness impact.

See VDH weekly surveillance reports.

For information about national flu surveillance, go to CDC's Flu Activity & Surveillance web page.

Where to get a flu vaccine

Flu vaccine is available in the community, including at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and grocery stores. Find a location near you using

The Health Department offers flu shots for children and adults by appointment only. Call 703-246-7100.

The following fees will apply for a flu vaccine at the Health Department: Uninsured: $25 adults & $21.24 children; Private Insurance: $30. Most health insurance plans cover flu shots for free. The Health Department is out-of-network for private health insurance. If you have private health insurance, you are encouraged to get the flu vaccine at an in-network provider. 

About flu

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by flu viruses. The respiratory system is the parts of your body that help you breath.

Seasonal flu is caused by viruses that already circulate among people. While seasonal flu viruses are detected year-round, in the United States flu season usually starts in late fall and lasts throughout the winter, sometimes into early spring. Most people have some immunity and a vaccine is available to help prevent the flu.

CDC estimates that between 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 – 52,000 deaths occurred annually between 2010 and 2020.

There is more than one type of flu. Other types of flu include:

Flu, the common cold, and COVID-19 are all contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. You cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 by the symptoms alone because they have some of the same signs and symptoms. Specific testing is needed to tell what the illness is.

Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills (Not everyone with flu will have a fever).
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

A person who is sick with the flu is contagious, meaning they can spread the virus. Adults can be contagious from one day before having symptoms to seven days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for even longer than seven days.

Complications of Flu and When to Seek Care

In some people, flu can cause serious complications such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and heart failure. The people most at risk of complications for seasonal flu are:

  • Children younger than 2 years.
  • Pregnant people
  • Adults 65 and older.
  • People with weakened immune systems and chronic illnesses such as asthma, congestive heart failure and diabetes.

If you have underlying medical conditions you are at greater risk of developing flu-related complications; you should consult your doctor if you have flu symptoms.

Anyone who has emergency warning signs should get medical care right away.

The main way flu viruses spread is from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. When someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, droplets containing the virus are sprayed into the air. Someone else can become infected if they breathe the infected droplets, or touch infected droplets on surfaces and then touch their own eyes, nose or mouth.

Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to fight the flu. Some additional steps you can take to protect yourself and others from flu include:

  • Avoiding people who are sick and staying home if you are sick.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Washing your hands frequently.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to fight the flu and prevents illness, hospitalization, and death. Even when flu vaccination does not prevent illness entirely, several studies have shown that it reduces severity of illness. 

Everyone 6 months and older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season, with rare exceptions. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at higher risk of serious flu complications — such as people 65 years and older, young children, people with certain health conditions, and during pregnancy.

The influenza virus changes constantly, and the protection a flu vaccine provides deceases over time. Flu vaccines are updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests will be common during the upcoming flu season. September and October are good times to get a flu vaccine.

Flu vaccines are safe and effective. There is no live flu virus in the injectable vaccine and it cannot cause the flu. 


Flu Information for Health Care Professionals and Laboratories

Additional Information

Download these educational materials for your home, work, faith community and elsewhere.

It's Flu Season

It's Flu Season

Translations: Spanish

Fairfax Virtual Assistant