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  1. Employee Resources
  2. My Health
  3. Respiratory Virus Treatments

Respiratory Immunizations and Treatments

Immunizations help prepare your body to defend itself from viruses and severe illness. Some immunizations teach your immune system what the virus looks like, so it can protect against it. Other immunizations have antibodies that protect you from the virus. Getting vaccinated can reduce your chances of getting infected to some degree, but its main strength is preventing severe illness and death. More and more evidence suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine can also lower your chances of developing Long COVID.

For more information, visit Vaccines.gov to locate flu and COVID-19 vaccines near you.

Updated Vaccine Recommendations

CDC recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines for their age group:

  • CDC recommends the 2023–2024 updated COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax, to protect against serious illness from COVID-19.
  • Everyone aged 5 years and older should get 1 dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19.
  • Children aged 6 months–4 years need multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be up to date, including at least 1 dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People aged 65 years and older who received 1 dose of any updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Novavax) should receive 1 additional dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months after the previous updated dose. The CDC offers additional information on Novavax.
  • COVID-19 vaccine recommendations will be updated, as needed.
  • People who are up to date have lower risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than people who are unvaccinated or who have not completed the doses recommended for them by CDC.

Respiratory Virus Treatments and Medications

Treatment is a core prevention strategy to lower your risk of respiratory viruses. Seek health care right away for testing and/or treatment if you believe you may have a respiratory virus (if you feel sick or tested positive for one) or if you have risk factors for severe illness. If you have the flu or COVID-19, treatment may be an option to make your symptoms less severe and shorten the time you are sick. Treatment needs to be started within a few days of when your symptoms begin.

Treatments for COVID-19 and for flu can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick. They may also reduce the risk of complications, including those that can result in hospitalization. For people with risk factors for severe illness early treatment can mean having milder illness.


COVID-19 medications are available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics.

  • Medications to treat COVID-19 must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and started as soon as possible after diagnosis or when symptoms first develop to be effective. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. You can treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), to help you feel better.
  • Use the tool below to find medications that are right for you:
  • Use the tool below to find a location that is right for you:

Need help finding a place to get medication? Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489)

Influenza (flu)

Treatment of flu with influenza antiviral medications works best when started within 1-2 days after flu symptoms begin and can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by about a day. Starting antiviral treatment shortly after symptoms begin also can help reduce some flu complications.

There are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season.

  • oseltamivir phosphate (available as a generic version or under the trade name Tamiflu®),
  • zanamivir (trade name Relenza®),
  • peramivir (trade name Rapivab®), and
  • baloxavir marboxil (trade name Xofluza®).

Check with your doctor promptly if you are at higher risk of serious flu complications and you get flu symptoms. People at higher risk of flu complications include young children, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) first identified in 2019. Flu is caused by infection with a flu virus (influenza 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.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Antiviral medication is not routinely recommended to fight infection. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious.

RSV immunizations are recommended only for these groups:

  • Adults ages 60 and older: Two RSV vaccines (GSK Arexvy and Pfizer Abrysvo) have been licensed by FDA and recommended by CDC for adults ages 60 and older, using shared clinical decision-making.
  • Pregnant women: One RSV vaccine (Pfizer Abrysvo) has been licensed and recommended during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy to protect infants.
  • Infants and some young children: An RSV preventive antibody has been licensed and recommended for infants and some young children.

If you have specific questions regarding your personal health conditions and vaccines, speak with your healthcare provider.

Visit CDC’s Respiratory Illness website to view additional resources.

Last Updated: 03/25/2024
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