As summer comes to an end and fall quickly approaches, many are concerned about the impending flu season – especially as we deal with COVID-19. Below are some questions I’ve received that might help you better understand the flu and how COVID-19 will impact the virus this season.
Why is it important to get a flu shot and when is the best time to schedule?
We predict that both the flu virus and COVID-19 will be spreading this fall and winter. Healthcare professionals strongly recommend that everyone who is 6-months and older receive a flu vaccine. Receiving a flu shot will be a vital factor in preparing our community for the continued fight against COVID-19. The flu can cause a variety of symptoms, including respiratory syndrome, chest/abdomen pain, body aches, fever, and cough – all of which can lower one’s immune system. These symptoms, along with a lowered immune system, make COVID-19 infection easier.
Can the flu shot cause the flu? Should we be worried about this during COVID-19?
While it is always important to get the flu shot – especially this year as we battle COVID-19 – it is also important to note that flu vaccines do not cause the flu. It is made up of the inactivated virus, meaning it is no longer infectious. While some fraction of recipients may get muscle aches, fever and headaches, you are not getting the flu as a result of the vaccine.
What can people do to avoid the flu this year on top of getting the flu shot?
After you receive a flu shot, you can further decrease your chance of contracting the flu by following these steps:
Avoid close contact – continue practicing safe, social distancing of six feet
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough – do not use your hand
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer often
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
If you are sick or have flu-like symptoms, limit your contact with others until you are feeling better or fever-free for 24-hours
Everyone can work together to keep our community healthy
Thank you for doing your part!
Dr. Won Sang is a physician at Pacific Medical Centers