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It's not too late to get a flu shot; risk of exposure can extend to April or May

State Epidemiologist Kristy Bradley chatted with readers and answered questions about flu symptoms and vaccines Monday.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: January 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm •  Published: January 7, 2013

Most vaccines that are currently distributed today contain no mercury-containing preservatives, or just a tiny amount of Thimersol that is considered safe. There are influenza vaccines that are Thimerosol-free, so you can request one of those brands of flu vaccine if you are still concerned.

What are the most common flu-like symptoms?

Good question because there are several different respiratory viruses that spread in a community at the same time that influenza is circulating! Influenza generally hits you much more quickly and with much more than a punch than cold viruses. With influenza, most affected persons will have a sudden onset of fever (100- 102 degrees or higher), headache, sore throat and extreme body aches. This rapidly progresses to cough, fever, chills and feeling like you were hit by a truck. Most people who have the flu will not be able to go to work or school, whereas with a cold, people feel sort of miserable with cough, congestion and post-nasal drip, but they still have the energy to do other things.

Read the entire chat recap here.