Be Sure to Get Your Flu Shot and Follow Safety Precautions
November 12, 2020
This year, flu season has collided with the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more important than ever to continue the practice of recommended health and safety guidelines and to get your flu shot. The flu vaccination can reduce your chances of contracting the virus, or if exposed, it decreases the chance of spreading the flu to others and may help lessen the severity of your infection. This season, vaccination can also help keep you out of your physician’s office or the emergency room, allowing healthcare providers to conserve resources for COVID-19 patients.
Similarities of Seasonal Flu and COVID-19
Both seasonal influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are highly infectious respiratory viruses with similar symptoms, including fever, chills, cough and fatigue. And both spread in the same way, by droplets made when someone with an infection coughs, sneezes or even talks within six feet.
Luckily, the same preventive measures we’ve been practicing to protect against COVID-19 can also help protect against the flu. These include washing your hands frequently with soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and using your face covering, as recommended.
Social distancing and staying home when you’re sick, avoiding close contact with people who are ill, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces will also help to prevent the spread of the flu.
While everyone is at risk of contracting influenza, children younger than 2 years, adults older than 65, people with suppressed immune systems, pregnant women and anyone with chronic lung, heart, kidney, or liver disease are at an increased risk of experiencing complications if they do get the flu.
The type and dosage of flu vaccine can also vary by age and level of risk. For example, some children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses for the best protection. High dose vaccines may be recommended for people age 65 and older.
Finally, too much stress can decrease your defenses against illness. Follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and engage frequently in activities that bring you joy to keep your stress levels down.
Talk to you provider today about the right flu vaccine for you. If you do experience symptoms related to the flu or COVID-19, stay home and contact your provider immediately.
Contributor: Bhagyashree Shastri, MD, Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine physician of Internal Medicine Associates of Aiken