09 Sep Preparing For the Upcoming Flu Season
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Staying healthy and avoiding the coronavirus continues to be a major concern for most Americans. Unfortunately, we now have the additional stress of the upcoming flu season and staying safe from a different set of viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viral strains. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection from two major types of influenza viruses, Type A and Type B.
Get Your Flu Vaccine
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to have extra flu vaccine available throughout the upcoming influenza season. The vaccine is available now at doctor’s offices and retail pharmacy centers throughout the country. CDC recommends getting a flu vaccination in September or October. However, getting the vaccine anytime during the flu season can help protect you. Remember, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies (which provide flu protection) to develop in your body. CDC Director Robert Redfield recently said, “This fall, nothing can be more important than to try to increase the American public’s decision to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence. This is a critical year for us to try to take flu as much off the table as we can.”
On a positive note, the 2020-2021 flu season may be shaping up to be a mild one for the United States. Countries in the Southern Hemisphere, which just finished their flu season, report their lightest one on record. Health officials attribute this to mandates put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus including social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, and travel restrictions. Nonetheless, it is important for Americans to remain vigilant and continue to follow safety restrictions and get a flu vaccine.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Testing is usually necessary to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, which include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Symptoms for COVID-19 can include all of the above and may also involve a change in or loss of taste/smell. Look for the following emergency signs and seek emergency medical care immediately if you believe you or someone you know may have COVID-19.
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
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