Last winter there was very little flu because of the masking and social distancing for COVID. Experts are concerned that this season we could experience an especially severe outbreak. And that means a flu vaccine could be more important than ever.
Because most of us have more exposure to people this year compared to last year and because of extra precautions taken last year, the transmission of the flu virus becomes likelier in the months ahead.
A Look at the Flu vs. COVID-19
COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in 2019, also known as SARS-CoV-2. There are different strains of SARS-CoV-2; some can be highly transmissible.
Flu is caused by two types of influenza virus: influenza A and influenza B. Different strains of these circulate each year.
The World Health Organization has outlined other differences between the flu and COVID-19.
Researchers predict between 100,000 and 400,000 more flu hospitalizations in the 2021-2022 flu season compared with a typical season—unless we protect ourselves.
Vaccines are Vital
A flu vaccine is recommended for almost everyone 6 months old and older. Ideally, you should get your flu vaccine by the end of October. You can schedule a flu vaccine through your doctor’s office or through most neighborhood chain pharmacies.
The CDC says a 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who hadn’t been vaccinated.
Injection Recommended for Nearly Everyone
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine with rare exceptions. Your PCP or pharmacist can help you know which dose is recommended for you. It is critical for patients with risk factors and their friends and family to be vaccinated. The shot protects against four different flu viruses. Side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, nausea, headache, or fatigue.
More than One Vaccine at the Same Visit?
You may be wondering whether you can get both a COVID-19 vaccination and a flu vaccine at the same time. The answer is yes, it is safe and convenient to get them at the same time. You can get a COVID-19 initial, secondary or booster shot at the same visit when you get your flu vaccine, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. “If that means going in and getting the flu shot in one arm (and) the COVID shot in the other, that’s perfectly fine,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
While waiting to get your vaccine and afterward, continue to do what we’ve become accustomed to doing to reduce infection: wash your hands frequently, avoid sick people and stay home from work if you get sick.
The most important takeaway is this: if you’re eligible (and almost everyone is), get a flu vaccination this season. And get it sooner rather than later.
New patients can call Bayless Integrated Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.