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Answering Your Questions about Flu Season 2020 and COVID-19

  • Category: COVID-19
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Answering Your Questions about Flu Season 2020 and COVID-19

As the flu season approaches, health experts warn that adding another respiratory illness on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could overburden the healthcare system, strain testing capacity, and increase the risk of catching both diseases at once. While it’s not possible to say what will happen this fall and winter, even a mild flu season overlapped with COVID-19 could rapidly overwhelm hospitals and clinics.

Getting a flu shot is more important than ever.

The influenza vaccine is widely available and proven to prevent the spread of viral infection. It remains the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza. Keep in mind that individuals over age 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions become high-risk patients if they develop serious flu-related complications.

These are our most frequently asked questions about the 2020 flu season. If you have others, please drop them in the comments and a health practitioner will answer with as much as we know so far.

Frequently Asked Questions about Flu Season 2020 and COVID-19

Is the flu shot safe for everyone?

Different flu shots are approved for people of different ages. Everyone should get an influenza vaccine that is appropriate for their age unless they are part of the following populations:

  • Children younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu shot.
  • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.

More information from the CDC is here.

How long is this year’s flu vaccine effective?

The flu vaccine is most effective in the first three months after getting the shot, but here. Over time, antibody levels decline and changes in the flu strain from year to year mean the antibodies you do have are less effective against new strains. We recommend getting your flu shot in October or November.

How much does the flu shot cost?

The influenza shot is fully covered by insurance with no co-pay. If you do not have insurance, a self-pay flu shot is $35 at Ogden Clinic or $50 for patients over age 65.

Where can I get a flu shot?

The influenza shot is widely available inside clinics and drugstore pharmacies without an appointment. Ogden Clinic has 10 locations in Northern Utah providing flu shots, find the clinic nearest to you.

Does the influenza vaccine prevent COVID-19?

The flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19; however, flu vaccination has other important benefits such as reducing the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. And getting your flu vaccine this fall will help conserve scarce healthcare resources.

What are the differences between influenza and COVID-19 symptoms?

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Flu differences: Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including those listed above. Flu symptoms here.

COVID-19 differences: COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include the change in or loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 Symptoms here.

Learn more about the contagious period of each virus here.

Can you have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time?

Unfortunately, yes — and if you have the coronavirus and the flu at the same time, the resulting impact could be even more severe than having either infection alone. Some areas are beginning to have a test available that can detect both the coronavirus and flu viruses so you may only need one test.

Can I get a flu shot if I have a cold?

People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting the flu vaccine. If you are ill, check with your healthcare provider first. People with mild illnesses can usually get the vaccine.

Can I get a flu shot if I am pregnant?

The CDC highly recommends flu vaccinations during any stage of pregnancy. If you have questions or concerns, please check with your healthcare provider.

Will flu season be lighter this year because of mask-wearing and social distancing?

Recent data out of the Southern Hemisphere indicates that their flu season was not as severe as in years past due to mask mandates and social distancing. While we certainly hope to see similar results, no one knows for sure what will happen, and it will largely depend on public behavior. Getting vaccinated, along with staying home, masking up, and keeping one’s distance, could dampen flu season and prevent a dual outbreak.

How to protect yourself and your family during the 2020 Flu Season:

  • Continue to practice good hygiene, handwashing, and sanitation.
  • Continue to wear your mask in public and during gatherings.
  • If you or your cohabitants feel ill, stay home as often as possible and isolate the symptomatic person.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Choose grocery delivery if available and take-out rather than dining inside restaurants.
  • Support your immunity with adequate sleep, a nutrient-dense diet, good hydration, and stress management.
  • Get your flu shot!