Flu Season & COVID-19: Why this year will look different
While it’s not possible to say with complete certainty what will happen this Fall and winter, it’s likely that both the flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. This means getting a flu vaccine will be more critical than ever. The current recommendation is that all people six (6) months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them. COVID-19 is an infection with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), and Flu is an infection with influenza viruses. Some of the symptoms of Flu and COVID-19 are similar, so it may be hard to tell the difference between them. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. If you suspect that you have the symptoms of one or both, EPIC Health can provide testing to help diagnose you.
Both COVID-19 and Flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms.
Influenza (Flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have Flu commonly feel some or all these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
* It’s important to note that not everyone with Flu will have a fever.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from Flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Some important facts about getting your seasonal flu vaccine:
Will getting a flu vaccine prevent me from getting COVID-19?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19; however, flu vaccines have many other benefits. Flu vaccines reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting a flu vaccine this Fall will be more critical than ever, not only to reduce your risk from Flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.
Will getting the flu vaccine increase my risk of getting COVID-19?
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine will increase your risk of getting COVID-19. There are many benefits of flu vaccination. While preventing the Flu is always essential, this year, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more critical. We need to do everything possible to reduce illnesses and preserve scarce health care resources.
How do I know I’m safe getting my flu vaccine?
Experts say that it’s safe for every eligible person to get their seasonal Flu vaccine as long as proper safety protocols are being followed. EPIC Health is taking every precaution to keep you safe when you come into our offices to get your flu vaccine or for any other healthcare services.
When you come into our offices for any services, please follow these guidelines:
- Everyone must wear a mask when coming into an EPIC Health office.
- Use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others) when visiting an EPIC Health office.
- Use hand sanitizer when leaving the EPIC Health office.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
- If you think you have COVID-19, call our office so that we can screen you or reschedule your visit.
It’s especially important to get your flu vaccine this year due to the similarities in Flu and COVID-19 symptoms. Flu vaccination could reduce symptoms that might be confused with those caused by COVID-19. Preventing the Flu and reducing the severity of flu illness and hospitalizations could also lessen the number of people needing to stay in the hospital and reduce the burden on healthcare resources.