According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting a flu shot each year is the most effective way to decrease flu-related illnesses and hospitalizations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, local experts said this year’s flu shot may be especially critical.
The CDC said it’s likely that flu viruses, and the virus that causes COVID-19, will both spread at the same time by the fall. Getting a flu shot to prevent additional flu-related illness will be more important than ever during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, decreasing respiratory illnesses is important to protect people who are at risk for severe illness. Anyone who is eligible to get a flu shot this year, especially:
- Essential workers including health care personnel.
- People who have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- People who are at risk for serious influenza complications including infants and young children, children with neurological conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 or older and other persons with underlying medical conditions.
If someone has COVID-19 and is thinking about getting a flu shot, it's important to remain in isolation until fully recovered to avoid putting others at risk. The CDC recommends that people with symptoms of COVID-19 should:
- Wait 10 days since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.
- Have no fever after 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Experience improving symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you are asymptomatic, wait 10 days after you test positive before returning to public spaces, including getting a flu shot.
It's best to get the flu shot as soon as it becomes available in our community. The CDC recommends people get vaccinated in September and October before peak flu season.
The CDC said it's likely flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be circulating, possibly having both the flu (and other respiratory illnesses) and COVID-19 at the same time. Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. When it comes to differences between the flu and COVID-19:
- COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
- The flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
- One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is losing taste or smell, that doesn't typically happen with flu. (Anosmia)
- Flu symptoms come on quickly, while COVID-19 symptoms can take longer to develop.
- Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illnesses, including hospitalization.
Because the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can be similar, the CDC said it can be difficult to differentiate between them based on symptoms alone and testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Getting a flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19. However, the flu vaccination has many important health benefits, including being known to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and severe illness.
Doctors Urgent Care will be getting flu shots in soon and the health and safety of patients is our top priority. To make sure patients can safely receive their flu vaccine this year, the clinic has taken a number of precautionary steps:
- Enhanced cleaning practices and use medical-grade disinfectant approved by the CDC.
- Made it easy to sign in and leave a cell number to wait outside, in your vehicle or wherever you feel safest.
- Assess the health of employees throughout the day.
- Establish processes to quickly identify patients with cold-like symptoms.
- Developed a "Golden Ticket" protocol to follow-up and expedite those with severe symptoms and with complicating issues.
The CDC said most people who get sick with the flu will have mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks, but some people are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and severe illness. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications.