More than half of all adult Americans did not get their flu shot last year. Were you one of them? If so, you’ll want to have a new game plan for this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, getting the flu vaccine will be critical now more than ever before.
Flu viruses as well as the virus that causes COVID-19 will be moving around our communities during the upcoming colder months. If you contract both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, you might need serious medical attention. This potential combination of illness also puts hospitals and their resources under pressure if cases of both COVID-19 and flu were to surge.
What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?
Flu and COVID-19 illnesses are caused by different viruses. However, they have similar symptoms, such as fatigue, coughing, fever and breathing difficulties. Also, people with a pre-existing health condition, older people and other demographics are at high risk for developing serious complications from both of these illnesses.
It is important for all of us to continue to wear face masks, wash our hands and practice physical distancing from others as these three action items help reduce the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu.
The other big action you can take is getting vaccinated! Even though there is no COVID-19 vaccine available at this time, there will be a flu vaccine available in the coming months.
How does the flu vaccine work?
The flu vaccine triggers your body to make antibodies that will protect it from a variety of flu viruses. Researchers decide which influenza viruses they think will be the most active that year, and those are included in the vaccine. Once you have your flu shot, it will help protect you against these top three or four virus strains. Even if a different strain of flu virus gets you sick, having the flu vaccine still protects your health and helps lessen the severity of illness.
Getting your flu shot every year is a healthy habit to have. Especially for high-risk individuals, the flu shot provides a variety of health benefits including:
- keeping you from getting sick
- experiencing milder symptoms compared to someone who didn’t get a flu shot
- reducing complications that require a hospital visit if you do get sick
Does the flu shot protect against COVID-19?
No, it does not. This is because COVID-19 is caused by a completely different virus than flu viruses. But, getting your flu shot can put you at an advantage during this pandemic. You’ll be less likely to get both of these illnesses at once since the flu shot will reduce your risk for influenza. The shot also lowers your risk of complications from flu, which in turn helps hospitals better care for those in your community as they battle both of these respiratory illnesses.
Is it safe to go to a health care facility to get the flu shot this year?
Yes, of course! We are still taking extra safety measures to keep you healthy anytime you visit one of our locations. Once supplies are available, you’ll be able to get your shot at many different places such as health departments, pharmacies and your primary care provider’s office. These health care facilities should have COVID-19 safety precautions in place to keep both patients and staff members safe.
When is the best time to get a flu shot?
Talk with your primary care provider, as they may have suggestions based on your individual health history. The risk of getting the flu shot too late is that you risk getting infected. On the other hand, if you get it too early you may not be protected the entire flu season. The month of October seems to be the best option for most people.
Stay updated on what Bon Secours is doing related to COVID-19.