Covid And The Flu: Can You Get Both At The Same Time
Influenza infections have increased at the same time that the omicron variant causes a fourth COVID wave, sparking “flurona” concerns.
A co-infection of COVID and the flu can be difficult to detect without testing.
After a 2020-2021 flu season that saw an unprecedented decline in yearly cases, influenza cases have rebounded in 2021-22, spawning concerns of a COVID-19 and flu “twindemic.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1,804 people were hospitalized with influenza for the week ending Jan. 8. That’s almost as many as who were infected in the entire 2020-2021 flu season.
One difference this year is that the current flu vaccine seems to be a poor match for the dominant strain of influenza. “From our lab-based studies it looks like a major mismatch,” Scott Hensley, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN.
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A less effective flu vaccine, combined with a lifting of lockdowns and mask mandates, could push 2021-2022 back to a more typical flu season, according to the CDC, with millions of Americans catching the flu and tens of thousands dying from it.
What’s worse than catching the flu? An co-infection of both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Health care professionals around the world have started reporting cases of patients contracting COVID-19 and influenza simultaneously, a phenomenon dubbed “flurona” that can bring additional risks to those with underlying health issues.
Why Do You Need A Flu Shot Every Year
You may know the illness as the flu, but this infection is actually caused by one of many strains of the influenza virus. These viruses mutate regularly, making them hard to pin down and target with a single vaccine.
Plus, different strains are more prominent each year. Throughout every year, experts track which flu viruses are circulating in animals, especially birds, bats, and pigs. Flu viruses can easily jump from these animals to humans . If a certain strain is widely circulating in bats one summer, theres a good chance it will soon be circulating in humans.
Scientists then use this information to design the annual flu vaccine. Every year, they target the flu shot toward the flu strain that they predict will circulate in humans. In other words, the flu shot you got last year protects against the dominant flu strains last seasonso it might be useless against this seasons flu virus.
Finally, the flu shot only provides protection for a limited time. You may not still have influenza-fighting antibodies in your system a year later, even if the exact same flu strains were circulating. This would make you vulnerable to catching the flu and potentially having life-threatening complications.
A Flu Vaccine Is The Best Prevention
Flu seasons and their severity are unpredictable. Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza in people ages 6 months and older.
An annual vaccination to prevent flu is the best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated, it is less likely that the flu viruses will spread through a community.
The vaccine typically changes each year and contains the four flu virus strains that are expected to circulate in the U.S. during the upcoming flu season. The effectiveness of influenza vaccines varies depending on several factors, such as the age and health of the recipient, the types of circulating influenza viruses, and the degree of similarity between circulating viruses and those included in the vaccine.
The task of producing a new vaccine for the next flu season starts well before the current season ends. For the FDA, its a year-round initiative.
The flu vaccine will trigger your immune system to produce antibodies to protect against influenza disease it will not make you sick with the flu. It can take about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body, which is an important reason to get your flu vaccine early, before flu activity starts.
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Should I Get My Child Vaccinated
Yes, a flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting the flu and spreading it to others. Children younger than 5 years of age especially those younger than 2 years old are at high risk of serious flu-related complications.
Flu vaccination has been found to reduce deaths in children. A study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that influenza vaccination is effective in preventing influenza-associated deaths among children.
Nationally, a total of 199 pediatric deaths had been reported to CDC during the 2019-2020 season.
Where To Get The Flu Vaccine
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
- a hospital appointment
If you do not have your flu vaccine at your GP surgery, you do not have to tell the surgery. This will be done for you.
It’s important to go to your vaccination appointments unless you have symptoms of COVID-19.
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Where Can I Get Vaccinated Against The Flu
People eligible for a free flu vaccineEligible people can get a free vaccination from their family doctor/general practice. It is usually the practice nurse who gives the vaccine. Many community pharmacies provide free flu vaccinations to people aged 13 years and older and pregnant women . People who are not eligible to receive a free flu vaccineThe flu vaccination is available from:
- your family doctor/general practice
Please contact your healthcare provider about the cost of getting the flu vaccine.
How Does A Flu Shot Work To Prevent Infection
Like other vaccines, the flu shot uses influenza antigens, special molecules that cause your body to produce antibodies that are specifically designed to fight off flu infection. Every virus and bacteria contains unique antigens. Once your body produces antibodies to fight off flu antigens, your immune system is trained to recognize flu germs as soon as they enter the body. Then, it ramps up its production of flu antibodies so it can prevent infection.
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Should I Have The Flu Jab Every Year
Over the winter months, many people catch flu. The NHS offers free vaccination to children, the over-65s and people at particular risk, like pregnant women and those with certain diseases. Yet less than two thirds of those eligible for the vaccination actually have it.
So why are people worried about the vaccine and should you be?
A common reason for people declining the vaccine is that the previous year they had the jab and they actually believe it gave them flu.
This is not possible as there is no live virus in the vaccine. However, it takes about 7 14 days for your body to develop protection after the vaccine, so if you contract the flu during this time, or even in the week before, then you might not be fully protected.
Protection is important, because flu kills up to half a million people worldwide every year and during a pandemic, this can escalate to millions.
However, the flu virus presents huge challenges for health professionals tasked with selecting which vaccine to deploy in any given year, and for scientists developing new vaccines against it. This is because the virus is constantly changing, which makes it one of the most difficult diseases to predict and control.
When we catch flu, whats actually happening in our bodies is that the flu virus infects a cell, multiplies within the cell, then goes on to infect more cells. Over time our immune system learns to recognise the virus and starts to destroy it.
Why Do I Need A Shot Every Year
While some vaccinations last for several years , other shots need to be given on a regular basis to ensure your body produces the antibodies it needs to fight off certain diseases. When a recurrent vaccine is needed, its usually to help your body maintain a specific level of antibodies that fight against one kind of germ that has the same susceptibilities year in and year out. But with the flu, its a bit different.
The influenza virus is capable of fairly rapid change. Each year, these changes to the virus result in different strains of flu that can make us sick. And every year, scientists develop a new flu vaccine to combat the strains that are most prevalent during that flu season. We need a flu shot each year to keep up with those changes, so our bodies can produce the antibodies they need to fight off the current strains of flu.
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Who Should Get A Flu Vaccine This Season
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza. A full listing of people at Higher Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications is available.
Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people.
- There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months old and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older.
- Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant people who are 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.
There are many vaccine options to choose from. CDC does not recommend any one flu vaccine over another. The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.
If you have questions about which flu vaccine to get, talk to your doctor or other health care professional. More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated.
How Serious Is The Flu
Most people who get the flu feel better after a few days to two weeks. However, the flu can be serious, and some people will develop other health issues, called complications, because of the flu. Complications can be mild, such as a sinus or ear infection, or more serious, like pneumonia.
Anyone can get sick from the flu, but some people are more likely to have complications. You are more at risk for flu and its complications if you:
- Are age 65 or older
- Have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease
- Have heart disease or have had a stroke
- Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
Pregnant women and children younger than five years old are also more likely to get very sick from the flu. Learn more about people at increased risk for flu and its complications.
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Antigenic Drift And Seasonal Influenza
The surface antigens of influenza A and influenza B viruses change often. The changes involve stepwise mutations of genes coding for H and N glycoproteins. This results in cumulative changes in influenza antigens, called antigenic drift. Antigenic drift is responsible for the annual outbreaks and epidemics of influenza. The composition of influenza vaccines needs to be reviewed every year because of antigenic drift.
Sometimes I Get The Flu Despite Having Had The Flu Shot Why Should I Bother
Flu vaccination prevents illness in up to 6 in 10 healthy adults under the age of 65. Because the vaccine is not effective in absolutely every case, some people may still catch the virus after having the flu shot. But the risk of illness is still reduced.
Although most people who get the flu recover without lasting effects, the flu can be very serious in some people and may require hospitalisation. In some cases, it can even be fatal. Its not possible to predict who will be severely affected.
Vaccination against the flu both reduces your chances of getting it and the severity of the symptoms if you do. So its still important to have the shot.
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The Flu Vaccine Does Not Offer Year
The antibodies your immune system produces after getting a flu shot decline over time. There’s some evidence that immunity starts to wane within as little as six months, especially for people with less robust immune systems. A flu shot in October would therefore offer protection through the bulk of flu season.
And because flu strains evolve so rapidly, doctors say it’s important to get a new flu shot at the start of each flu season, not just on an annual basis.
That means that even if you get a shot late in the season in the early spring, for example – you’ll still need a new one at the start of the next flu season meaning several months later, in the fall.
Fever And Febrile Convulsions In Children Aged < 5 Years
In 2010, higher rates of fever and convulsions were reported in children aged < 5 years after influenza vaccination, especially in children aged < 3 years.
Only the Seqirus vaccines Fluvax and Fluvax Junior were associated with this side effect. After vaccination with Fluvax or Fluvax Junior, children < 5 years of age had convulsions at a rate of 4.4 per 1000 doses, compared with no such events reported among children who received an alternative vaccine in the same year.85
The Fluvax and Fluvax Junior vaccines are no longer available in Australia and available Seqirus vaccines have been reformulated.
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Why Do Healthy People Need To Get Vaccinated
Healthy people should get vaccinated against the flu vaccine every year because anyone can get seriously ill from the flu virus. Some groups have a higher risk than others. But the flu vaccine helps prevent serious illness and death from the flu in all people who get vaccinated and in people who are unable to get vaccinated. The more people who get the flu vaccine, the more everyone in our community is protected.
Can I Get The Flu Vaccine If I’m Pregnant
Yes, it is strongly recommended that you get the flu vaccine if you are pregnant. It can be given in any trimester. Pregnant women are more likely to get severe complications from the flu than non-pregnant women, and it can be dangerous for their unborn baby too. Protection passed from the mother in pregnancy can protect her newborn as well. The flu vaccine has been proven to have an excellent safety record for both pregnant women and their unborn babies. Read more about pregnancy and immunisation.
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Why Do You Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year
You need a flu vaccine every year for two reasons. First, flu viruses change and the flu vaccine is updated each year to target the flu viruses that are anticipated to spread that year. Second, the protection you get from a flu vaccine lessens with time, especially in older people. Getting your flu vaccine every fall gives you the best protection from that year’s flu viruses.
Can I Have The Flu Vaccine If I Have Latex Allergy
Fluad Quad, Afluria Quad and Afluria Quad Junior syringes do not have any components made using natural rubber latex.Influvac Tetra syringes do not contain any latex components. However, the manufacturer is unable to confirm that the product did not come in contact with any latex materials during the manufacturing and packaging process.If you are highly sensitive to latex and have had a severe allergic reaction to latex, tell your healthcare provider before getting the flu vaccine.
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Transporting Storing And Handling Vaccines
Transport according to National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5.160 Store at +2°C to +8°C. Do not freeze. Protect from light.
Discard influenza vaccines appropriately when they reach their expiry date. This is to avoid accidentally using a product with the incorrect formulation the following year.
The Flu Shot Is Effective
The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on:
- how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses
- the health and age of the person getting the flu shot
The viruses circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.
It’s also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. The seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining 2 or 3 viruses, even when theres:
- a less-than-ideal match
- lower effectiveness against one virus
If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.
Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications.
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Health2020 Flu Particularly Bad For Young People
This year’s vaccine appears to be a good match for one of the strains currently circulating, called influenza A H1N1, said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University and the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
But it’s not as good a match for another strain this year, the B/Victoria strain, which has been responsible for a high percentage of the illnesses so far this season, Schaffner said.
While there’s never a guarantee the vaccine will prevent all flu cases, doctors say it can ease the severity of the flu if you do get sick, and help prevent complications, including pneumonia and having to be hospitalized.
And a 2018 study found people who got the vaccine each flu season were less likely to die or end up in the hospital with severe flu.
Infectious disease experts rarely if ever say it’s “too late” to get a flu shot. But even Schaffner told NBC News this time of year mid-January is cutting it close.
“It is late,” he said. “If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, get it this afternoon.”
There does appear to be a sweet spot when it comes to the best time of year that would likely offer the best protection: in the fall, preferably before Halloween. Indeed, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the flu vaccine be administered before the end of October.