Getting a Flu Vaccine is More Important Than Ever
The CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this year. In this context, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine prior to the flu season.
For the upcoming flu season, a flu vaccination is important to reduce flu because it can:
- Reduce the number of respiratory illnesseses in our population
- Lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Keep individuals from getting sick with flu, reduce the severity of the illness if you do get flu and reduce the risk of a flu-associated hospitalization.
- Reduce the risk of potential co-infections with both Flu and COVID-19
What is the difference between COVID-19 and influenza?
Influenza (the flu) and COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus that's led to the current pandemic, are both infectious respiratory illnesses. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses. Research so far indicates that COVID-19 spreads more easily and has a higher death rate than the flu.
- COVID-19: Caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
- Influenza: Caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.
- Español: Haga clic aquí para descargar un PDF
Seasonal Influenza (Flu)
Seasonal influenza (flu) frequently comes on fast and furious. One minute you're feeling a little "off" and within an hour or two you know you'd better get yourself to bed. It’s a common respiratory infection caused by a virus that affects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last from 5 to 7 days. Here are some common symptoms of the flu:
- Fever and/or chills
- Cough (usually dry)
- Aches and pains
- Runny or stuffy nose (sometimes)
- Sore throat (sometimes)
- Diarrhea (sometimes in children)
Unlike for colds, vaccination is a good way to prevent the flu. If you received a flu vaccine and still get the flu, your symptoms are generally milder than if you didn’t receive the flu vaccine, and people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized. Most people with the flu get well without medical treatment, although they can be quite ill for several days. Stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids and treat a fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Most people who get the flu will recover in less than two weeks. But in some people, the flu causes complications, including pneumonia. The overall hospitalization rate in the U.S. for the flu last season was about 67 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.
More information about the flu:
Symptom Comparison Table
It is important to remember that antibiotics won’t help any viral infections. Usually, the infections just need to run their course, so it’s best to just wait and watch. If your viral symptoms get better, and then days later suddenly get worse, you should contact your healthcare provider who can evaluate whether you may have a bacterial infection.
How are the flu and COVID-19 spread?
Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Both are spread mainly by droplets in the air made when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can be breathed into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that a person can get infected by physical human contact (e.g. shaking hands) or by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Both flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 may be spread to others by people before they begin showing symptoms, by people with very mild symptoms or by people who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) as well as those who are ill (symptomatic).
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important for influenza (flu) vaccines to be given during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Can I have flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
If I am pregnant is it safe to get a flu vaccine?
Can I catch the flu from the flu vaccine?
Why do we get an influenza vaccine every year?
Is the flu vaccine dangerous?
When does flu season start in Utah?
Is a cold a symptom of a flu?
Should people with egg allergies get a flu vaccine?
Who should talk to their doctor or pharmacist before getting a flu vaccine?
How much does it cost?
Should a flu vaccine be given to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
What are the strains included in the influenza vaccine this season?
How much influenza do we expect this year?
Does the influenza vaccine help protect against COVID?
Can I get a COVID Vaccine and a Flu Vaccine at the same time?
Annual flu vaccines are covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicare Parts B and D as well as Medicaid.
Please check with your insurance provider for questions about your medical benefits coverage.