Why You Should Get a Flu Shot Amid COVID-19

Why You Should Get a Flu Shot Amid COVID-19

Flu vaccination week is around the corner. It’s not too late to roll up your sleeve and get your shot.

“Because the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a reality, it’s particularly important to vaccinate yourself and your family against influenza this season,” said Lauren McGraw, DO, Holland Hospital Family Medicine – Douglas.

To help you understand why flu vaccination matters for you and those you love, Dr. McGraw offers answers to some common questions:

Are COVID-19 and the flu basically the same?

No. Here’s a look at the symptom similarities and differences. Despite having symptom similarities, COVID-19, the flu and even your standard cold (also sometimes caused by a type of coronavirus) have big differences.

Will there be flu along with COVID-19 this winter?

It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this winter. Cases of the flu usually rise from November or December through March. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu is through vaccination. While receiving a flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, it will most likely mean less illness severity, safeguarding you from serious complications, including respiratory failure.

Who should get a flu shot?

With rare exceptions, the CDC recommends all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

What viruses will the 2020-2021 vaccines protect against?

Flu viruses are constantly changing. That said, US flu vaccines are reviewed annually and updated as necessary to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines are designed to shield against the three or four viruses research suggests will be most common. You can learn more about specific vaccines here.

Will there be changes to where the flu shot is given this year?

Certain settings that often provide vaccination, such as your workplace, may not offer vaccination this year due to challenges with maintaining social distancing and other COVID-19 safety recommendations. If you have safety concerns about getting a flu vaccine, follow the CDC’s guidelines for running essential errands and doctor visits. And don’t forget to practice everyday prevention strategies.

Can I get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes, you could have the flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses at the same time. Diagnostic testing is the only way to help determine if you’re sick with flu or COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 more dangerous than the flu?

Flu and COVID-19 can both cause serious illness, leading to hospitalization or even death. We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19. However, some studies have shown that this virus is more deadly than seasonal influenza.

Will a flu vaccine protect against COVID-19?

No. However, getting a flu vaccine provides other benefits.

Does a flu vaccine increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

No, getting a flu vaccination does not increase your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Likewise, a flu shot cannot cause the flu. The viruses contained in a shot are inactivated (killed), which means they can’t cause infection.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

There are a variety of places where you can safely receive flu vaccination, including your local health department, retail pharmacies or your doctor’s office. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, we can help you find one.

Along with getting your shot, there are other ways to stave off the flu, too, including washing your hands frequently.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

While a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t available yet, researchers around the world have been working hard and at warp speed to develop one. Vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are all showing promise. By the end of this year or early 2021, experts predict that a a safe and effective vaccine will emerge.

The CDC has been collaborating with health departments and other partners to develop plans for when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. You can learn more about the CDC’s plans here.

In your neighborhood and close to home, Holland Hospital Family Medicine is focused on your health and wellness—delivering comprehensive, compassionate care for infants, children and adults of all ages. Call (616) 394-3200 to request an appointment.

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