This year, a flu vaccine is more important than ever!

Monday, November 23, 2020

The more people vaccinated; the more people protected. Do your part. Get a flu vaccine.

flu shotGetting a flu vaccine is vital this season to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why get a 2020 flu shot?

People who are 65 and older are at high risk of having serious health complications from the flu. When older adults  get their yearly flu shot, it helps lower the number of medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. An essential part of protecting your health during this flu season is getting the flu shot.

This year, due to COVID-19, flu shots are more available than in the past. There are many places to get a flu shot. Your doctor’s office, local pharmacy or health department are all good places to start. You can find a list of local health departments in our Resource Directory

What is the difference between flu and COVID-19?

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. 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, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.  This page  on CDC website compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

Can the flu shot itself give you the flu?

While people may experience some mild side effects – like soreness, tenderness, redness/swelling where the flu shot was given, and maybe a headache, muscle aches, fever, nausea and tiredness – flu shots are safe and do not cause the flu. The high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of these mild side effects. And, all side effects are mild compared to the flu itself.

What if I get the flu?

There are prescription drugs that can treat flu virus infections, and the CDC recommends that people 65 and older be treated with influenza antiviral drugs if they get the flu. If you have flu symptoms – even if you already had a flu shot – call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. The medications work better the sooner they are started. If you have any of these symptoms, you might have the flu and should call your health care provider and describe the symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

How much does the flu vaccine cost?

Medicare Part B covers the cost of one flu shot per flu season. More information: https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/flu-shots.

Where can I get more information about the flu and the flu vaccine?

 

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medicare.gov