Why the Flu Shot is a MUST this Season
While the world continues to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that you don’t ignore the upcoming flu season. Health experts warn that the merger of influenza and the coronavirus could create an even greater national health disaster. Doctors warn that while we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine, the demand for the flu shot will be higher than ever before.
Why Get the Flu Shot this Year?
Influenza is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 2019-2020 flu season led to tens of millions of cases of the flu and tens of thousands of related deaths. That was before the current pandemic got involved.
The annual flu season pushes hospital resources to the limit. This year, more than ever, Americans need to do all they can to prevent influenza and lessen the stress on the healthcare system caused by the coronavirus. The best way to do this is to get the flu shot as soon as possible.
The CDC recommends anyone over the age of six months gets the flu vaccine every flu season, which typically begins in October and can last as late as May. The flu shot is a single dose vaccine and is the easiest way to protect yourself against the influenza virus. And should you get the shot but still contract the flu, being vaccinated typically significantly reduces the severity of flu symptoms.
Are the Flu and COVID-19 the same thing?
No. While symptoms for both viruses are similar, the influenza virus and the novel coronavirus are not the same thing. Both viruses attack your respiratory system and are spread through respiratory droplets and through contact. But COVID-19 can be a much more severe illness and mortality rates are higher for COVID-19 than for seasonal influenza. According to the World Health Organization, the number of reported deaths divided by the reported number of cases is between 3-4%, while the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections is lower. In the United States, the fatality rate is around 6%. For seasonal influenza, the mortality rate is typically well below 0.1%.
Common similarities between the Flu and Covid-19 include:
- Feeling tired
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or congestion
- Feeling feverish or experiencing chills
- Muscle pain and body aches
- Shortness of breath – this is typically more common with COVID-19 than flu
The Main Differences between Covid-19 and the Flu include:
- Muscle pain and body aches are typically much greater with the flu
- COVID-19 symptoms can include a loss of sense of smell and/or taste
- COVID-19 symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
- COVID-19 symptoms can include conjunctivitis (pink eye) and skin rashes
- The onset of flu symptoms is typically quite fast while those of COVID-19 are more gradual
The flu virus also has a shorter time span from the point of infection to the appearance of symptoms and can spread faster than COVID-19. The most notable difference between the two viruses is the fact that there is an available, annual flu vaccine, therefore flu prevention is available. There has yet to be a vaccine for COVID-19.
Can you have both the Flu and Covid-19 at the same time?
While it is not impossible to have both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, it is highly unlikely. However, it is possible to get one virus and then the other. Fighting off one infection causes your immune system to weaken and it’s then less capable of fighting off a secondary infection. Trying to combat two respiratory infections at one time could be disastrous for your health.
Health experts suggest getting the flu shot as soon as possible in order to avoid this possible scenario. The flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19 but it can prevent the flu.
You should not wait for the first flu outbreak to get your vaccine. Get your shot early to protect both yourself and your family.
*All of these symptoms are just guidelines. Both viruses can affect patients differently.