You May Have More Protection From The Worst
Precautions such as social distancing that are already in place for COVID-19 could help prevent flu.
We know from years of experience with influenza that there are things that can interrupt transmission. Surgical masks are the primary mode of reducing in-hospital spread of influenza, along with handwashing, Grant says.
But the flu vaccine is considered to be the most important tool for preventing flu and is, indirectly, a strategy for preventing COVID-19, because it can keep people out of the emergency room. The emergency room is a location where you are at risk to be exposed to coronavirus, Grant says.
A flu shot may also protect people from COVID-19 in other ways. Doctors cant say for sure if getting the flu would make someone more susceptible to COVID-19, or vice versaalthough they do know that having the flu makes people more vulnerable for bacterial infections like pneumonia, Grant says. They cant say what would happen if someone contracted both flu and COVID-19, either.
We really dont know, but one might imagine the two viruses could act synergistically and make you more ill.
Why Is The Flu Vaccine Less Effective Some Years
Flu vaccine effectiveness can vary from season to season, Rivera said. The protection provided depends on the similarity between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation, as well as the health of the individual.
She explained that there are different strains or types of flu viruses, and flu vaccines usually work better against influenza A and influenza B. The vaccine may be less effective against influenza A .
During seasons when the vaccine is well-matched , vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by up to 60 percent, she said.
When And Where To Get It According To Doctors
Beware, flu season is coming.
This year could be particularly sickly: Though doctors dont yet know how deadly this strain of influenza will be, it will start infecting people at the same time as cases of the coronavirus will likely surge.
If social distancing isnt followed, this could be the worst fall, from a public health perspective, weve ever had, said CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield.
Some have dubbed the co-happening of the coronavirus pandemic and flu season a twin-demic, and for good reason: From 2018 to 2019, 35.5 million people were infected with the flu, and over 34,000 people died from the virus, according to the CDC.
We do not want to have an increased number of patients with flu-like or COVID-like symptoms swarming the clinics or the hospitals, the capacity of what we have going on right now, Dr. TingTing Wong, a primary care physician and infectious disease specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Brooklyn, told The Post.
Thats why its especially important to get vaccinated now.
Here is everything you need to know about getting the flu shot this year.
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How Does The Flu Shot Work
Emily Temple-Wood, DO, family medicine resident at Lutheran General Hospital said, I like to think of the flu shot and vaccines in general as target practice for your body.
Our immune systems are infinitely adaptable, but the main downside is that it takes time for them to learn how to fight different bugs, which means you usually get sick the first time you get exposed to something like the flu, she said. We can hack that system with vaccines, which give your body the information it needs to fight something off without getting you sick.
Antibodies are what the body uses to fight infections, and they get stronger when youve already been exposed to a virus.
So, if youve had the flu shot and get coughed on by someone who has the flu, your immune system has already seen the flu and has practiced killing it. That means that if you get sick at all, itll be less severe, said Temple-Wood.
Positive Lessons From Last Years Flu Season
Experts believe last years low level of flu transmission was largely due to the protective measures many people took to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
I think one thing we have learned as a result of the pandemic is that we really have the ability to impact the way influenza is transmitted in our community, says Dr. Bryson-Cahn.
Vaccination, masking, distancing, staying home from work when we are sick, keeping children home from school when they are sick, folks washing their hands all these things that we recommend to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 also help prevent illness and death from influenza, she explains.
Indeed, many infectious disease experts see the mild flu season as the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every year we have people in our hospital die of the flu, especially young children and pregnant women, but last year we didnt no one died in our hospital due to the flu, says Bryson-Cahn. That was an amazing thing, and it gives me a lot of hope for the future about how we can control this infection.
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Who Should Not Receive A Flu Shot:
Most people should be vaccinated for influenza each year, But some people should not be vaccinated, or should not receive some types of influenza vaccines, depending upon things such as their age, health and whether they have certain allergies.
Information about who cannot get a flu vaccine and who should talk to their doctor before getting a flu vaccine is available at Who Should & Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated.
Why Do I Need To Get A Vaccine Every Year
Viruses change because the genes for that virus change. Some viruses change very little and others, like influenza, change frequently and sometimes in many genes.
Roper explained, Influenza viruses belong to the orthomyxovirus family of viruses. They are very unusual because they have eight different genome segments, eight different pieces. Most viruses have one piece of genome, but flu has eight.
Because of this, flu can reassort genome pieces with other related viruses and make a whole new strain. This happens frequently, every year, so we have to make a whole new vaccine each year because the flu genome changes so dramatically, Roper said.
Other viruses that have one genome piece slowly mutate and evolve over time, Roper added. Thats why our vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox have worked for decades because those viruses mutate more slowly.
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The Vaccine Can Help Even If Its Not 100% Effective
Its true that the flu vaccines effectiveness varies from year to year. But if you turn out to be one of the people who gets sick despite getting the vaccine, chances are you will have a milder flu and a lower chance of being hospitalized.
Contrary to what some people think, the flu shot will not give you the flu, although some have experienced mild flu-like reactions such as achiness and fever. Another myth is that the flu shot could protect against COVID-19. It will not, but scientists are currently testing more than 35 potential vaccines for the new coronavirus in clinical trials and hoping to find one that can be deemed safe and effective enough for general use.
How and where you get a flu vaccine may change this year due to the pandemic. If you arent sure where to go, call your doctor, or go to VaccineFinder, an online tool recommended by the CDC to help find a vaccination site close to home.
Source: Kathy Katella for Yale University
Increase The Proportion Of People Who Get The Flu Vaccine Every Year Iid09
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Baseline:49.2 percent of persons aged 6 months and over were vaccinated against seasonal influenza for the flu season 2017-18
Increase the proportion of persons who are vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza
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What Are The Types Of Flu Vaccines
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 20202021 flu season. Both protect against the four types of influenza virus that are causing disease this season::
- the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
- the nasal spray, a mist which gets sprayed into the nostrils
In the past, the nasal spray vaccine wasn’t recommended for kids because it didn’t seem to work well enough. The newer version appears to work as well as the shot. So either vaccine can be given this year, depending on the child’s age and general health.
The nasal spray is only for healthy people ages 249. People with weak immune systems or some health conditions and pregnant women should not get the nasal spray vaccine.
It’s Safe To Get Your Covid And Flu Shots Simultaneously
The COVID pandemic continues to cause infection, hospitalization and death, with hospitals in the hardest-hit areas once again at the limit of their ability to treat patients. But the flu shot should be as easy to get as the COVID-19 vaccination.
For more on vaccines this fall, here’s what we know about the Pfizer COVID-19 booster, the Moderna vaccine booster and the Johnson & Johnson booster. And here is the latest on Pfizer’s antiviral pill.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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Why Is The Flu Shot Important For People With Diabetes
People with diabetes have many important reasons to protect themselves against the flu by getting a flu shot:
- They have a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections.
- An acute illness, such as the flu, makes it harder for people to control their blood sugar. Having the flu may cause blood sugar levels to rise however, people dont feel like eating when they are sick and a reduced appetite can cause blood sugar levels to fall. That is why it is important to monitor your levels more frequently when you are ill.
- Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu as well as reduce the risk of having a serious flu outcome, such as a stay in the hospital or even being admitted to the intensive care unit.
- People with diabetes are hospitalized due to the flu far more than those who dont have the disease.
Why Dont Flu Shots Defend Against All Flu Strains
Its an age-old question, why does the annual flu shot only protect against some varieties of the flu? Although scientists continue to work on creating a universal flu vaccine, the seasonal inoculation works much differently.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists try to pinpoint which strains of the flu will be the most dominant throughout an upcoming season and then tailor that years vaccine to work against those varieties.
In the U.S., all seasonal flu vaccines are quadrivalent vaccines meaning they stop four different flu viruses. These include an influenza A virus, an influenza A virus, and two influenza B viruses. Despite taking their best guess, even health officials admit the annual shot varies widely from year to year.
The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or match between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation, the CDC writes.
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Getting The Flu Shot May Help Cut Down On Symptom Confusion
Flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms. While you can always call your doctor if a symptom is confusing, it could be easier to figure out what it means if youve had the flu vaccine.
There is a lot of overlap, says Hansen, and I think it is going to be a challenge for us to differentiate between these illnesses. Although getting a flu shot doesnt mean someone couldnt still get the flu, knowing if a patient had one is important information during a pandemic.
Both viruses can cause illness that may range from mild to severe. According to the CDC, both flu and COVID-19 may cause the following symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Its important to note, however, that loss of taste and smell is a symptom of COVID-19 that doesnt occur with the flu.
Last Years Mild Flu Season Makes This Seasons Harder To Predict
Last seasons low number of flu cases is causing another potential wrinkle: Experts have less information to use for predicting what this years flu season might be like and what strains may be circulating, says Bryson-Cahn.
Each year the World Health Organization determines which viruses will be included in the flu vaccine in the Northern Hemisphere on the basis of which viruses have been circulating in the past two or three years, as well as what is circulating in the Southern Hemisphere earlier in the current flu season.
Public health officials dont have much to go on this year. And, so far, there isn’t much flu in circulation globally.
According to the , global flu activity has remained at lower than expected levels for this time of year, which they believe may be due to continued COVID-19 measures like physical distancing and masking.
But there have been some outbreaks of the flu in the Southern Hemisphere, says Mokdad, who believes that scientists have had enough information to build an effective flu shot. This virus isnt going to mutate outside what we expected.
Indeed, with fewer circulating strains of the flu, there is less chance for the virus to mutate, he notes, which could potentially translate into a more effective vaccine at least at the start of the flu season.
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Why You Should Still Get A Flu Shot This Year
Nov. 10, 2021 — The flu shot is far less effective than the COVID-19 vaccines, causes more side effects, and targets an infectious disease that most people survive, with the flu killing only a fraction of those who die from coronavirus.
So should you even bother getting a flu shot this year?
Health experts say the short answer is yes.
They point to three key reasons federal health authorities recommend the flu shot for everyone 6 months old and older:
âIt’s really important to reduce the risk of getting the flu, which is what the flu vaccine does,â says Leana Wen, MD, an emergency medicine doctor and public health policy professor at George Washington University. âThis is particularly important this year, when we could very well face the confluence of influenza and COVID-19.â
She notes that flu shots, as well as COVID-19 vaccines, donât protect only those who receive them.
Why Flu Shot Effectiveness Varies
What Can We Expect This Year?
What The Flu Season Will Look Like This Year
The U.S. isn’t seeing a lot of influenza yet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that could soon change.
To predict what kind of flu numbers the U.S. should expect, experts often look to the Southern hemisphere, where flu season usually starts in June and peaks in August.
“The story is mixed so far,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Australia, with its tight pandemic restrictions on travelers coming into the country, has had very low flu activity, Schaffner said.
“But China, which has more interactions with the outer world, has had a moderate flu season,” Schaffner said.
“So we think we’ll have at least a moderate season this year.”
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Testing And Treatment Of Respiratory Illness When Sars
While waiting on results of testing, non-hospitalized persons with acute respiratory symptoms should self-isolate at home. Even if people test negative for both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses, they should self-isolate because of the potential for false negative testing results depending upon what kind of test was done and the level of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus transmission in the community. Persons not hospitalized with suspected or confirmed influenza who are at increased risk for complications from influenza should receive antiviral treatment for influenza as soon as possible, regardless of illness duration.
For hospitalized patients, empiric oseltamivir treatment should be started as soon as possible for patients with suspected influenza without waiting for influenza testing results. Get more information on testing and treatment when SARS-CoV-2 and flu viruses are co-circulating.
CDC has developed clinical algorithms that can help guide decisions for influenza testing and treatment when SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses are co-circulating.
FDA-approved antiviral medications for treatment of influenza have no activity against SARS-CoV-2 viruses, nor do they interact with medications used for treatment of COVID-19 patients. If a patient who is at higher risk for influenza complications is diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus co-infection, they should receive antiviral treatment for influenza.