Flu season is here, and that means it's time to get your annual flu shot. This year, getting your flu shot could not be more important.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is essential everyone gets their flu shot. In this blog, we're going to explain why it's so important to get your flu shot and everything you need to know about it. Information provided in this blog is derived from the Centers For Prevention and Disease Control. You can read more information from the CDC here.
Why should I get a flu shot?
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness. If you haven't heard of it already, the flu shot helps protect you and those around you from catching the flu. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Although it doesn't guarantee you won't get the flu, it can still protect you from some different strains of the flu.
The CDC estimates that last season, fewer than half of Americans got a flu vaccine and at least 410,000 people were hospitalized from flu. Increased vaccination coverage would reduce that burden, and allow scarce resources and materials to be used for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases.
The COVID-19 pandemic & your flu shot
Getting your flu vaccine this year is of the utmost importance, and there are two main reasons why.
1. Getting a flu shot can help you prevent getting sick from the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously. Both COVID-19 and the flu are known to affect the upper respiratory tract, and being diagnosed with both at the same time could be extremely dangerous for your health.
2. Getting a flu shot will also help reduce overall hospitalizations and keep hospitals from going over capacity. Every year, thousands of people fall ill with the flu, and many become hospitalized. As we head into colder months, many of us will be indoors more, which makes it much easier for COVID-19 and the flu to spread. Having your flu shot will help reduce overall hospitalizations, and in the event of a spike in COVID-19 cases, it will help reduce hospitals from going over capacity.
What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?
The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, but are not related and are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.
What are flu & COVID-19 symptoms?
Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the flu share some similar symptoms. Both illnesses can cause mild or severe cases. The flu and COVID-19 share these symptoms:
- Fever, chills
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches/pain
- Lack of energy
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Unlike the flu, it is more common to have a new loss or change of taste or smell if you have COVID-19. If you think you have the flu or COVID-19, contact your health care provider to discuss testing and treatment options. You can learn more about the flu and COVID-19 here.
How can I protect myself against the flu & COVID-19?
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get your flu shot as soon as possible. Secondly, you should do all of the following:
- Wear a mask or face covering when outside or around people outside of your social bubble.
- Continue to practice social distancing measures.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitizer to disinfect your hands. Wash or sanitize your hands before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the restroom. The CDC recommends that you wash your hands for the length of about two “Happy Birthday” songs.
- Avoid contact with your face. Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs (especially door handles or surfaces on the subway) and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. The CDC advises coughing into tissues and states that if a tissue is unavailable, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve rather than your hand. Afterward, dispose of the tissue and wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer that contains an alcohol content greater than 60%.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
- Stay home if you are sick. This is important. For the flu, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities.
What should I do if I am sick with the flu or COVID-19?
If you think you have the flu, stay home. Most cases of the flu are not severe and resolve themselves within one to two weeks. If you have a serious case of the flu and have trouble breathing, contact your medical provider to discuss whether you need to be hospitalized.
If you think you have COVID-19, stay home. Contact your medical provider to discuss next steps. If you have a serious case and are having difficulty breathing or a high fever for more than three days, you should go to the hospital/call your medical provider.
How Apicha CHC can help you
If you need a primary care provider, request an appointment with Apicha CHC. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment with us, you can give us a call at 866-274-2429 or click here to request an appointment and we'll have someone from Apicha CHC contact you to help schedule your appointment. We offer COVID-19 testing by appointment only, as well as flu vaccines and testing.