A neighborhood infectious an illness specialist answer our countless questions around the flu.

You are watching: How long are you contagious with the flu

ByAllison ForsythDecember 8, 2021


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So you come down through the flu and also you are finally feeling better, but you quiet have a pesky lingering cough and also runny nose. Room you tho contagious? can you return to work, school and all those holiday parties you have planned there is no infecting others?

Infectious condition specialist and CAN community Health medical director Dr. Tanya Schreibman answers our questions around contagiousness and how we can safely navigate the vacation season.


When carry out you become contagious through the flu?

"You room theoretically transmittable for 24 hours before you experience symptoms," claims Schreibman. "This could be scary for part people, due to the fact that they don"t recognize they room sick and also going out and about. However it"s typical to be spreading germs prior to you even feel sick."

How lengthy are you infectious for?

"It depends on the person, yet the highest rate the contagious period would be three to four days if symptomatic," says Schreibman. "From symptom beginning to 3 to four days, girlfriend are many critically contagious. However on average, friend remain transmittable five to seven days after ending up being sick."

Are girlfriend still contagious if you have actually a lingering cough or runny nose?

According come Schreibman, the is difficult to say. Any flu symptoms can last as lengthy as one to 2 weeks. And, "theoretically, during that time, you might still be contagious, specifically kids and those v a weakened immune system," says Schreibman.


So, you deserve to still be transmittable with a lingering sneeze or runny nose, however for no much longer than two weeks. This is why Schreibman advises that world should err top top the side of caution, especially with Covid-19 quiet a concern.

"I"ve noticed in my work-related that human being are more cautious," says Schreibman. "It"s tricky as soon as you have youngsters in school, favor I did. You never ever want come send youngsters to school with a runny nose these days, since everyone is being cautious. It deserve to be challenging to identify when come send lock back, yet use your ideal judgment and seek recommend from her doctor."

How is the flu spread? Is it various or comparable to Covid-19?

"Both room spread similarly, through droplets in the air once an infected human sneezes, coughs or speak without a barrier, prefer a mask or confront shield," claims Schreibman. "The flu virus deserve to travel increase to six feet, so if you room in the very same room together a sick person, breath the exact same air or even touch a contaminated surface, you room at greater risk the infection." This slightly different from the Covid-19 virus, which studies have shown friend are much less likely to capture through touch.


Are you less contagious if you"ve got the flu vaccine? can you still obtain the flu after vaccination?

According come Schreibman, you deserve to absolutely acquire the flu also when vaccinated, yet information on the efficacy that this year"s shoot is not yet known. And if you have the right to still contract the flu, you space still just as infectious to others.

"The vaccine could assist mitigate or lessen symptoms, but not level of contagiousness," says Schreibman.

Have Covid-19 measures also worked in ~ reducing influenza numbers this year?

The number of flu cases dropped last year because of every the actions put in location to protect against Covid, favor mask wearing and social distancing. Currently that many of those rules have actually been eased, there"s a higher risk that a flu spread, follow to Schreibman"s evaluation of recent data.


"Organizations prefer the Centers for condition Control and also Prevention will continually upgrade flu numbers," claims Schreibman. "Right now, it"s mirroring low levels nationwide, yet it is top top the rise."

If you get the flu, when should you be healthy enough to return to work, school and also festivities?

"The CDC recommends that when recovered native the flu, you have the right to return to work or institution 24 hrs after symptoms disappear or after fever is gone without the use of medications like ibprofen or acetaminophen," claims Schreibman. "Four to five days ~ symptoms have started, ~ above average, is when human being can return to job-related safely."

However, Schreibman alerts that level of contagiousness have the right to vary from person to person. She advises remaining on the safe side: remaining home, working from home and using telehealth and Zoom.

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 For more information top top influenza number this year, click here. Come learn more about Schreibman, visit CAN ar Health"s website or call (941) 366-0134.