Protect yourself from flu and COVID-19
WARRENVILLE, Ill., Sept. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With the flu season around the corner and COVID-19 still spreading, it is important to be prepared for both—and know what to do to prevent infection.
COVID-19 and the flu are respiratory illnesses and have similar symptoms, making it difficult to tell them apart. Some of the symptoms they share include cough, fever, congestion, shortness of breath, muscle aches, chills, nausea or vomiting, headache and sore throat.
“There’s no way to differentiate between COVID-19 and the flu because many of the symptoms overlap,” says Jonathan Pinsky, M.D., medical director of infection control at Edward Hospital, part of the Edward-Elmhurst Health system in suburban Chicago. “The best way to differentiate between the two is to get tested.”
COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing, mandated facial coverings and limitations on indoor gatherings contributed to a relatively mild flu season in 2020-21. Though the outlook for this flu season is unclear, continued COVID-19 restrictions could mean a mild flu season as those same precautions help prevent the spread of the flu.
But people should still be prepared and get vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19.
It is possible to have the flu with COVID-19, Dr. Pinsky says, adding that the combination of viruses can create serious health risks.
- Flu vaccine: Getting a flu shot can help lower the chance for flu this season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu vaccines for anyone 6 months or older. Flu vaccines are available at physician’s offices and through most pharmacies.
- COVID-19 vaccine: It’s important that everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get their shot. Vaccines may not prevent someone from getting exposed to the virus. However, they do provide immunity that can clear the virus, making infection less likely. The COVID-19 vaccine also greatly reduces the chance of severe illness requiring hospitalization or resulting in death.
It is safe to get COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time, according to CDC guidance.
Because COVID-19 and flu symptoms are so similar, getting vaccinated against the flu this year has the added benefit of decreasing the chances of getting the flu and having to get tested to rule out COVID-19, Dr. Pinsky says.
For more information, visit EEHealth.org/coronavirus.
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SOURCE Edward-Elmhurst Health