With fall right around the corner and flu season hot on its heels, public health officials nationwide are urging consumers to get vaccinated against the flu to stave off a “twindemic,” a double-whammy surge in flu and COVID-19 cases.
“When the flu vaccine becomes available, make sure you get vaccinated so that you could at least blunt the effect of one of those two potential respiratory infections,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force told MarketWatch in July.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine, but older Americans who are already more vulnerable to both COVID-19 and the flu are particularly encouraged to get the shot this year.
It is possible to have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be, but the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. At this time, it’s not known if having either illness makes you more susceptible to catching the other.
The flu vaccine not only reduces your risk of getting the flu but also helps to reduce the strain on the health care system. As the flu and COVID-19 will continue to spread in the fall and winter, health care resources will be more precious than ever. The flu vaccine won’t protect against COVID-19, but it will reduce the likelihood of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Experts believe that if the flu is sending a lot of people to health care facilities, it increases their risk of contracting COVID-19.
If you have severe symptoms or are in the high-risk category (very young or old, or have an underlying condition), you may want to consult your doctor regarding antiviral drugs. If taken 48 hours after the illness begins, they can help reduce symptoms and shorten the time you’re sick by one day, according to the CDC.
You don’t even have to go all of the way to the doctor’s office to get the shot; many pharmacies, such as CVS and Rite Aid, offer flu shots given by licensed pharmacists on staff.
There are several different types of flu vaccines, and you may wish to talk to your doctor about which one is right for you. Both the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California license health care practitioners, and you can check the license of your practitioner at https://search.dca.ca.gov.