What to know about flu season during the coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — With this year’s flu season around the corner, medical professionals are advising everyone to stick to routine, preventative measures to help stop the spread of both the flu and COVID-19.

Experts say it’s crucial to get the flu vaccine this year as it coincides with the ongoing pandemic.

“We totally recommend everybody getting their flu vaccine,” physician at SouthCoast Health in Richmond Hill, Dr. Blaine Crosland, said.

“We want to mitigate complications as much as possible. We don’t know what to expect entirely because this is going to be our first flu season with COVID but we would encourage all of our families to continue routine preventative care to keep everybody as healthy as possible,” she added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine each year. The flu shot for the 2020-2021 season will be available in early September nationwide.

Crosland recommends getting your flu shot as soon as one becomes available in your area so flu cases don’t overwhelm hospitals already overrun with coronavirus patients.

She says a flu shot won’t protect you from catching COVID-19 but may put you in a better position to fight it.

“Just because you have the flu does not mean you don’t have coronavirus. So it’s going to be a tricky flu season,” Crosland said. “It will require everyone to continue masking when they’re out and about, being mindful when they’re out in public when they have respiratory illnesses.”

The latest influenza cases by state, from the CDC

Crosland says SouthCoast Health is prepared with flu tests and COVID-19 tests, but experts are working to test for both viruses on one swab soon.

“It would be worth reaching out to your doctor to get tested for both,” Crosland said.

Medical professionals are working to mitigate confusion surrounding coronavirus protocols and symptoms as flu season approaches. The flu, cold and coronavirus often share certain symptoms but have differences in intensity.

Common symptoms that COVID-19 and the flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that different from flu may include a change in or loss of taste or smell.

If a person has the coronavirus, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu. They also may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu.

While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu, according to the CDC. COVID-19 is also more easily spread than flu.

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