Can You Get the Flu Twice? What You Need to Know

Can you get the flu twice? Yes, it's possible to catch different flu strains in the same season due to the virus's ability to mutate and evolve.

No one wants the flu, especially twice in one season. It takes 1-2 weeks to get better, but you aren’t safe from getting it again. The flu changes constantly, finding ways to weaken your immune system.1 There are different types of flu, like flu A and B. Having one type doesn’t protect you from others, unless you get your flu shot.

1 If you’re not vaccinated, have health problems, use certain meds, or don’t keep clean, you’re at higher risk of getting sick again.

Key Takeaways

  • You can get the flu twice in one season due to the flu virus’s ability to mutate and evolve.
  • Getting one type of flu does not provide immunity against other flu strains.
  • Flu A is more severe and mutates faster than Flu B.
  • Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu reinfection.
  • Practicing good hygiene and staying home when sick can also reduce the risk of getting the flu again.

Can You Get the Flu More Than Once in a Season?

You can catch the flu more than once in a season. This is because different flu virus strains are active together.1 Even if you’ve had one kind of flu, you can still get another. Each year, new flu viruses appear, making you susceptible again.1

Possibility of Catching Different Flu Strains

Flu comes in different forms, like type A and type B. If you get one type, it won’t protect you from others. A flu shot can help.1 Several flu strains can be present at once, which increases your chance of more than one bout in a season.1

Building Immunity Against Specific Strains

The flu virus changes often. It does this to beat your body’s defenses. So, even if you’ve fought one strain, you may not be immune to others.1

CharacteristicInfluenza AInfluenza B
SeverityMore severe1Less severe1
Mutation RateMutates 2-3 times faster1Mutates slower1
HostsCan infect wild birds and other animals1Almost exclusively infects humans1
PrevalenceMore common1Less common1

Influenza A and B Viruses

Influenza A and B viruses can both cause epidemics. But, there are big differences.2 Influenza A is often seen as more harmful. It leads to more people being admitted to the hospital or even dying, when compared to B.2 A-types, like H1N1 and H3N2, change their genetic makeup faster than B.2 This means A-types are better at avoiding our immune systems.

Differences Between Flu A and Flu B

Influenza A can lead to severe illnesses like avian or swine flu. It spreads to a wide range of animals, including wild birds.2 Flu B, on the other hand, mainly affects humans. It’s not as common as A.2 Flu B is often seen in children, while adults usually get the A-type.

Severity and Mutation Rates

Flu A changes its genetic structure 2-3 times faster than B.2 Because of this, A viruses can get better at attacking our immune system. This is why flu A leads to more severe cases and deaths than B.2

Influenza A and B Comparison

CharacteristicInfluenza AInfluenza B
HostsWide range, including wild birds and other animalsAlmost exclusively infects humans
SeverityAssociated with more severe illnesses and higher hospitalization/death ratesGenerally less severe than influenza A
Mutation RateMutates 2-3 times faster than influenza BMutates more slowly than influenza A
Predominant Age GroupMore common in adultsMore common in children

Can you get the flu twice?

Yes, it’s possible to catch the flu twice in one season.3 Even if you’ve already had the flu, you might still get it again. That’s because flu viruses change often to overcome your natural defenses.2

There are different types of flu viruses, like influenza A and B. Catching one type doesn’t shield you from the others.3

After catching the flu, you can spread it for up to seven days.3 It’s best to stay at home until you’re no longer contagious, which usually takes about a week.3

The flu can make you more likely to get other infections like pneumonia. This is why flu-related deaths can be high, happening from these additional sicknesses.3

Some groups face higher risks from the flu. This includes babies, older adults, and those with health conditions.

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Getting the right flu shot can greatly protect you.2 But, the shot might not work as well for those over 65 or with weak immune systems.2

Even though flu shots aren’t perfect, they are crucial for avoiding severe illnesses.2

A flu vaccine can be given any time during the season, between December and May in the U.S.2 Pregnant folks should get the shot. It’s safe and strongly advised.2

Symptoms and Complications

The flu can make you more likely to get other serious infections. This includes pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections. These infections can be deadly and might happen as soon as you get the flu, while you have it, or even after.4

Typical Flu Symptoms

When you have the flu, you might run a fever, feel very tired, and have a runny nose. You’d also cough a lot and your muscles might ache. All these can make you feel awful.5

Risk of Secondary Infections

On average, about 8% of Americans get the flu each year. The number can be as low as 3% or as high as 11%, depending on how bad the flu season is.5 Older people, 65 and above, are less likely to get it. Only about 3.9% of them do.5 The flu affects more people if the season is severe, with rates ranging from 3% to 11%.5 The CDC says it affects about 8% of us annually.4 In the 2017-2018 season, over 49 million Americans caught the flu. About a million of them needed hospital care.4

One severe flu outcome is pneumonia, which can cause many health problems like fluid in the lungs.4 Without treatment, bronchitis can get worse, leading to other conditions such as heart problems.4 Around 8% of Americans get sinusitis annually as a result of the flu.4 Flu can even cause encephalitis, with symptoms like seizures and brain damage. This is uncommon but very serious.4

Testing for the Flu

At vybe urgent care, you can get rapid flu tests quickly. Their team of clinicians will also create a treatment plan for you.1 Knowing if you have the flu is crucial. It helps you take care and protect others if needed.1

Rapid Flu Tests

If you’re at a higher risk for severe flu symptoms, such as with asthma or diabetes, doctors may give you antiviral medicine. This can help manage or prevent serious complications.1 Remember, antibiotics don’t work against the flu.

Treatment Options

vybe urgent care is a top choice in Philadelphia for urgent medical needs. They offer flu shots without an appointment.1 Getting your flu shot early, around late fall, is the best time. These shots protect against four types of the flu.1

Preventing Flu Reinfection

Getting a flu shot every year helps build immunity. This protects you from the flu.1 It guards against four main flu viruses of the season.1

Staying home when ill keeps the virus from spreading. It is important for everyone to follow this rule.6 Remember to wash your hands a lot. It’s also good to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.3

Importance of Flu Vaccination

Yearly flu vaccines are the best defense. They help your body fight off the flu.1

These shots protect you from the most common viruses each season.1 The CDC says everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot. It’s the top way to avoid the flu.6

Staying Home When Sick

If you’re sick, stay home. And tell others to do the same.6 The flu season is from October to May.6 During this time, be careful not to spread your illness.

Hand Hygiene and Cough Etiquette

Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Or, use an alcohol-based hand gel. This stops flu from spreading.3

Cover your mouth when you cough. And when you sneeze too. It’s very important, especially now.3 These steps are simple but they help prevent the flu.

High-Risk Groups

Some people have a higher chance of getting seriously sick from the flu. This includes babies, young kids, older adults, and people with weak immune systems or health issues.6 They might face bad flu complications like pneumonia. They are also more likely to end up in the hospital or even die.

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Infants and Young Children

Those under 2, especially infants, are at a big risk from the flu.6 Their immune systems are still growing, which makes them more likely to get very sick. They may also have other problems, like pneumonia or severe dehydration.

Elderly and Immunocompromised

People over 65 and those with weak immune systems or ongoing health issues are at risk too.6 This group includes those with heart, lung, or kidney problems, diabetes, and complex illnesses like cancer or HIV/AIDS. Even those living in care facilities are part of this high-risk group.6

Vaccine Effectiveness and Strains

The WHO’s vaccine committee is key in suggesting what flu strains to combat each flu season.7 Yet, the recommended vaccine may not always hit the mark due to the flu’s constant changes.8

WHO Recommendations

The WHO discusses twice yearly to update their flu vaccine advice.7 They base their suggestions on global studies. These studies help determine the best flu vaccine mix for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.7

Timing of Flu Shots

It’s smart to get your flu shot in September or October, before the flu spreads widely.8 But, it’s still helpful to get vaccinated later in the season, even as late as May.8

Flu Season Duration

Flu season starts every October and goes on until May.6 There are many types of flu around then. This means you can get sick more than once in the same year.6

Usually, flu is most common between December and February in the U.S.2 But it can last until May too.2

The flu season lasts from October until May.6 During this time, the flu can change into new forms and keep infecting people.6

This stretching of the season makes it more likely for people to get sick more than once a year.6 And the protection from a first flu might not work for new types.6

To keep from getting sick again, it’s important to protect yourself.26 This means getting a flu shot every year, washing your hands often, and staying away from sick people.26 By being careful, you can lower the risk of having the flu more than once a year.6

Hydration and Antiviral Medications

One crucial step in fighting the flu is staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is the best choice. This is especially true because your body loses a lot of fluid when you have a fever.3

It’s suggested to drink a lot of water when treating the flu. Water helps your body recover. So, remember to take in plenty of fluids. Medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help ease your symptoms.3

If you take antiviral drugs like Tamiflu within the first 24 to 48 hours of feeling sick, they can help. They might make your symptoms go away faster. They can also reduce how long you’re contagious and lower the risk of serious problems.3

1 Remember, antibiotics won’t work on the flu. That’s because the flu is caused by a virus.

Seasonal Flu Epidemics

Both influenza A and B lead to seasonal flu epidemics. But A is more severe for adults than B.6 More people get hospitalized or die from A than B.6 Yet, B hits children harder.6 In some seasons, we might face both A and B viruses.6

Influenza A and B Circulation

Influenza A and B are the top causes of seasonal flu epidemics. A impacts adults more than B does.6 A causes more severe cases. It leads to higher hospital and death numbers.6 However, B can come back strong in the middle of the season. This means we could have A and B circulating at the same time.6

Immune Response and Protection

After getting the flu, your body creates a defense to prevent catching it again, called an immune response. This response helps your body remember and fight the same flu strain if it comes back. But, it doesn’t fully protect you from all the different flu strains.1 So, you might get sick again with a new flu type because the virus changes a lot.1

Antibody Formation

Getting the flu prompts your body to make fighters called antibodies. They work well against the flu type you had.6 Yet, since the flu changes, antibodies from one time might not help with a new flu strain.1

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Cross-Protection Between Strains

Antibodies from a previous flu can guard you against that same kind later. Yet, they might not protect you from all other flu types.1 The flu keeps changing, making it tricky. So, even in one season, you could get different flu strains.9


The flu virus can change and evolve. This means you can catch the flu more than once a year.10 Even if you’ve had one type of flu, you might not be safe from others.

It’s important to get a flu shot every year. Also, wash your hands often and stay home if you’re sick.11 Yet, in the 2021-2022 season, many still got sick. The A(H3N2) virus was the main culprit.

Severe cases can happen when someone is sick with both flu and a bacterial infection. Finding and treating these cases early is crucial.12

Knowing how the flu works can help us stay ahead. Keep up with vaccines and hygiene to protect yourself and others.10

The flu can change, making you open to catching it again in a season.10 The vaccine helps, but it might not cover all the strains, like in 2021-2022.11

Stay alert, follow the advice of health officials, and see a doctor if you’re very sick. These actions are crucial in avoiding severe flu issues.11


Can you get the flu twice in one season?

Yes, you can get the flu more than once a season. After the first flu, you’re not fully immune to other strains. The flu virus changes, finding new ways to infect.There are many flu types, like A and B. Having one doesn’t prevent others. This means one bout of flu won’t keep you from getting another.

What is the difference between influenza A and influenza B?

Influenza A hits harder and more often. It can lead to more hospital visits and deaths. Influenza B is more common in kids. Sometimes, both types can be active during the flu season.

What are the typical flu symptoms?

The flu brings fever, fatigue, and effort to breathe. It also causes a runny nose and muscle pain, all making you feel quite horrible. It can also set you up for other infections, like pneumonia or ear infections.

What are the treatment options for the flu?

Vybe urgent care clinics offer quick flu tests and treatment advice. Most symptoms can be handled at home, but knowing if you have the flu is crucial to protect others.If you’re at higher risk, such as people with asthma or diabetes, you might need antiviral medicine.

How can I prevent getting the flu twice in one season?

Get a flu shot each year to build up your defense. Avoiding others when you’re sick is also key in stopping the spread. Regularly washing your hands and covering up when you cough or sneeze lowers infection chances.

Who is at high risk for severe flu complications?

Infants, the elderly, and pregnant women face higher flu risks. So do those with certain health issues or weakened immune systems. Living in a care facility also increases your risk of severe flu problems.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The WHO suggests flu vaccine strains each season. Their match isn’t always perfect due to the flu’s changes. Getting vaccinated in September or October is best, but a shot later still helps.

How long does flu season last?

Flu season runs from October to May. This long period allows various flu types to spread. Because of this, catching the flu more than once in a season is possible.

How does the immune system respond to the flu?

Your immune system learns from the flu, helping against the same strain. Yet, it’s less effective against other flu types. The virus’s mutations keep challenging your immune response.

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