Fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath – the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 can be hard to differentiate, but these are two distinct illnesses. That means you could contract both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, and getting one does not make you immune to the other.
Both viruses can be life-threatening, especially for high-risk populations like older adults and people with certain medical conditions. To protect yourself and those around you, it is important to practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and get your flu shot!
The flu vaccine has been around for nearly 80 years, and it offers the best way to prevent the flu from spreading and preserve healthcare resources. Our Chief Nursing Officer Dara Koppelman, shares relevant information about the flu shot:
Is there a new flu shot this year?
Yes, even with the race to create a COVID-19 vaccine, scientists have been hard at work developing a new flu shot for the 2020-2021 flu season to protect against the strains of flu that are predicted to be most serious and widespread this year. Additionally, there are two new vaccines for people over 65 years old.
How effective is the flu shot?
Since the flu shot has a new formula each flu season, the effectiveness rates can vary. Last year’s flu vaccine was about 40% effective. While this number may seem low, it means that your chances of having to visit your doctor or be hospitalized as a result of the flu were nearly cut in half if you received the flu shot.
Who should get the flu shot?
Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, with almost no exceptions. You should talk with your provider before receiving the flu vaccine if you have a known allergy or history of bad reactions to the vaccine, or if you have ever been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Getting vaccinated protects you, your family, and your community, so when in doubt, get the shot!
When should I get the flu shot?
Flu season runs from October to May, so getting the flu shot in September or October will offer the best protection. However, it’s always better to get the flu shot late than not get vaccinated at all.
Keep in mind that the flu shot does not reach full effectiveness for about two weeks. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to develop antibodies to fight the flu virus, and it takes time for the antibodies to develop.
Is it safe to get the flu shot during the pandemic?
Yes, in fact the flu shot is even more important this year to reduce the burden on the healthcare system during the pandemic. To keep you safe while administering the flu vaccine, Mary’s Center is taking all appropriate precautions, including use of personal protective equipment, additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and separating sick and well patients.
If you suspect that you may have COVID-19 or have recently come in close contact with someone who has tested positive, call your provider prior to your visit.
How can I get the flu shot at Mary’s Center?
We are offering the flu shot at all our health centers in DC and Maryland. Every day you wait is a day you could catch the flu, so call 844-796-2797 or click here to make an appointment today!
Thank you to the following Georgetown Nursing students for contributing to this post: Wanda Alexander, Caitlyn Brandon, Jessica Collins, Katherine Farnam, Mariona Franklin, Valeria Rodriguez, and Carly Ward