Lessening the impact of a COVID-19, flu and cold combination this fall
Flu season is here and our country is still in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And, while it may not be what you want to hear, it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Both of these viruses can be hard on our bodies, but we’re still not sure how they will interact with each other.
Your best bet for staying healthy and well? Get your flu vaccine. It’s the number one way to protect yourself from getting the flu and making your symptoms less severe if you do catch the virus.
Stay informed and be empowered to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
COVID-19 and the flu: What we know, what we don’t
COVID-19 is called a ‘novel coronavirus’ for a good reason: It’s brand new and there’s much we don’t know about it. The flu, on the other hand, has been studied and researched for decades – for centuries, in fact. Just think about how far we’ve come since the last pandemic our country (and globe) faced during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic:
- We have a very effective flu vaccine that’s readily available across the country
- We understand how the flu virus is passed from person to person
- We can take steps to limit the spread of seasonal influenza
We also know that every year, doctors’ offices and hospitals quickly become busy with individuals sick with the flu or suffering from serious complications from the virus, like pneumonia.
The flu vaccine can’t stop you from getting COVID-19, but it can offer protection from the flu so that your body will be in fighting condition should you contract another virus. Scientists are working hard to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, and we’re getting closer every day. Plus, we know that many of the steps that slow the spread of COVID-19 will also help prevent the flu from spreading.
The flu shot: Get the facts
Staying healthy is also about staying informed. In today’s world of information overload from the constant news cycle and social media feeds, it can be easy to hear and spread misinformation about the efficacy of the flu vaccine. As a quick reminder, here are a few things to know about the flu shot:
This year, get your flu shot as soon as you can
While flu shots are typically available anytime from September to April, this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine be administered by the end of October, which ensures coverage for the peak flu season.
Children aged 6 months through 8 years who require two doses should start as soon as the vaccine is offered and follow up with a second dose in approximately four weeks. Flu shots are available at many of our primary care and urgent care locations.
The flu vaccine won’t give you the flu
The virus in the flu vaccine is too weak to make you get sick from the flu. The most common side effect from the flu shot is redness and soreness at the injection site. And if you do start to feel bad after getting the annual flu vaccine, chances are you were starting to come down with something before you got your shot. If you do run a low-grade fever temporarily after getting the flu shot, this means your body’s immune system is working like it should to fight off viral intruders.
Know your symptoms and when to get care
COVID-19 has made almost all of us run for the thermometer after every cough or body ache. Now, with flu season quickly approaching, it’s more important than ever to be able to recognize common symptoms of flu and COVID-19 – especially since many of the symptoms are similar.
Symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19 include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
Flu symptoms can develop suddenly and be severe. If you’re feeling sick and aren’t sure about your symptoms, it’s best to talk to your primary care provider. Your provider can help you decide what your next steps should be and recommend a treatment plan to help you feel better.
Healthy habits reduce your risk of getting sick
Whether it’s fighting off the flu, preventing the spread of COVID-19 or just doing your best to avoid a pesky cold, there are simple steps you can take as you prepare for this flu season, including:
- Wearing a face mask. The science is clear. Face coverings can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Staying 6 feet apart. Droplets that carry COVID-19, the flu and cold germs can’t travel very far. Even with a mask on, maintaining your physical distance from others can help you avoid coming in contact with germs.
- Washing your hands. Proper handwashing hygiene can keep you and your family stay healthy.
- Staying home if you’re sick. Play it safe and avoid being around others if you’re not feeling well.
Eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and staying active can also go a long way in boosting your immunity and fighting off germs that can cause illnesses.
Get your flu vaccine
Schedule an appointment to get your flu shot. Covenant is offering flu vaccines at many convenient locations, including primary care offices and urgent care. Find more resources you can use at Covenant Health.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.