This year, COVID-19 and the flu will circulate across the United States at the same time, and it might cause some confusion. You can expect all these new measures of washing hands, wearing face masks and social distancing to also keep you safe from the flu. However, some people will still get the flu, and there is still no cure for COVID-19. So what happens when you get both?
The flu season normally starts around November in the Northern Hemisphere, and the combined burden with COVID-19 could overwhelm hospitals. But there is hope. The good news is that a safe and effective flu vaccine is readily available for anyone aged six months and older.
Here are additional reasons why it is extra beneficial to get a flu shot this year.
Reduce Hospital Visits
In a bad flu season, 40 to 50 million Americans may catch the flu with over 800,000 requiring hospitalization. Flu alone fills up most hospital beds in normal years, so doctors are preparing for higher numbers of both flu and COVID-19 patients.
Avoiding the flu will help free up space in hospitals for COVID-19 patients who need them.
You Are Better Protected
COVID-19 precautions such as wearing face masks could help prevent the flu. However, the flu shot is still the most important tool for preventing the flu. If you think about it, getting your shot will reduce COVID-19 cases by keeping people out of the ER.
Having a flu shot also keeps you safer from COVID-19. How? Doctors understand that the flu makes people more vulnerable to bacterial infections like pneumonia. If someone contracts both flu and COVID-19, the two viruses could act together and make you more ill.
Protecting At-Risk Groups
Just like COVID-19, the flu can be a severe disease. In fact, every year thousands die from it. People over the age of 60 and those with underlying conditions are at higher risk of contracting the flu. However, even young and healthy adults might experience severe symptoms.
By having a flu vaccine and reducing its prevalence in the community you also protect the vulnerable from potentially getting the disease.
Cut Down on Symptom Confusion
COVID-19 and the flu share many symptoms. While you can always contact your doctor for confusing symptoms, it would be easier if you got the flu vaccine. And although getting a flu shot doesn’t mean you won’t get the virus, knowing a patient has one is important information during a pandemic.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 and the flu share the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- In some cases, children report vomiting and diarrhea
However, it is important to note that the loss of smell and taste is a symptom only associated with COVID-19.
The Vaccine Can Help Even if It’s Not 100% Effective
The flu vaccine varies in effectiveness every year. However, if you still contract the virus after your shot, you are likely to experience mild side effects and lower chances of hospitalization. But contrary to what most think, the flu shot cannot protect from COVID-19. Nonetheless, scientists are currently testing out more than 30 potential vaccines for COVID-19. With time they might find one that is deemed safe and effective enough for public use.
Before You Go
Where and how you get your flu shot this year might be affected by the pandemic. If you are not sure where to get your flu shot contact Diamond Physicians to help get a flu shot near you.