Flu season is almost here, and getting a flu vaccine has never been more important. By vaccinating against the flu, you are helping to reduce its spread during the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping to ensure that our health care systems can manage through this time. While safety measures such as washing your hands, wearing a mask, disinfecting surfaces, staying home when sick and practicing physical distancing are still important, the flu vaccine is still the best defense against getting the flu or experiencing complications like pneumonia from the flu if acquired.
It is difficult to tell the difference between COVID-19 and flu by symptoms alone. Both respiratory viruses share some similar symptoms such as fever, chills, cough/congestion, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, muscle and body aches, nausea and sore throat.
Studies show that up to 20 percent of people who have COVID-19 also have influenza A and B and other respiratory viruses. The flu shot decreases your likelihood of getting these viruses together.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommend yearly flu vaccination for anyone older than six months of age, including pregnant women. The flu vaccine is especially important for high-risk populations or those with chronic illnesses. However, everyone can benefit from getting vaccinated.
Regardless of how healthy you are, getting vaccinated carries a much lower risk of harm than catching the actual flu virus. The flu can cause serious infections in high-risk populations such as infants, elderly adults and those with underlying medical conditions. It is also a common cause for pneumonia.
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated between the end of September and the end of October to be best protected, as it takes about two weeks for the immunity to form in your body. However, it is never too late to get the flu shot. Young children who need two doses of the vaccine to be protected should start the process earlier because the doses need to be four weeks apart.
Together we can beat the flu. Here are some simple tips to protect yourself and your family this flu season:
- Get the flu vaccine
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick and stay home if you have symptoms
- Wear a mask when in public
- Use your elbow to cover coughs and sneezes
- Wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds and carry hand sanitizer with you to use frequently
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Disinfect surfaces
Ensure you are maintaining a physical distance of 6ft in public spaces