Last winter, flu cases were down dramatically as Americans stayed home and masked up at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the Delta variant causing new surges, we’re now seeing concerns about a “twindemic” of COVID and influenza this fall and winter. Experts say flu season 2021 will likely be much rougher than last year. Our advice is simple: those eligible should get both the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine to stay safe and healthy.
What Do Projections For The 2021/2022 Flu Season Look Like?
Flu activity was low last winter as masking, social distancing, school closures, and other COVID prevention measures appeared to reduce the spread of influenza viruses. A recent report in Live Science showed that last year’s flu season saw just four hospitalizations per 100,000 people compared with the usual rate of 70 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Flu-related deaths dropped by 95 percent last year, researchers said. However, two studies published this summer predict a more severe flu season for 2021 and early 2022, with a projected 100,000 to 400,000 more flu hospitalizations compared with a typical season. Flu vaccinations can play a significant role in reducing hospitalizations, and it’s essential to add your yearly flu vaccine to your list of healthcare must-dos this fall.
What Is The Flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. There are two types of flu viruses that cause illness in people: influenza A and influenza B. This year’s flu vaccines focus on protecting against four primary strains: H1N1 and H3N2 (type-A flu viruses) and two type-B viruses (from the Yamagata and Victoria lineages). Flu season generally runs from October through March. According to the CDC, populations at highest risk for severe illness from the flu include people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (including asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than five years. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year.
Are Flu and COVID Symptoms The Same?
Many of us are aware that flu and COVID have several symptoms in common. It’s easy to see why it might be confusing and challenging to self-diagnose–and why it’s so important to get tested for COVID. Shared symptoms include:
- Fever and chills
- Sore throat
- Headaches, muscle aches, and body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea in some cases
One of the main differences is the loss of taste or smell–a red-flag symptom of COVID which does not occur with the flu. However, not all COVID patients experience a loss of taste or smell. If you have flu-like symptoms, get tested for COVID. It’s the only way to confirm a positive COVID case. Even if you test negative, stay home until your symptoms are gone–we want to stop the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu.
What Are Flu Vaccine Recommendations For 2021?
The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for most Americans 6 months and older. There are several flu vaccines available this year, and your primary care provider can help you choose based on the patient’s age and underlying conditions. Getting the flu vaccine helps prevent the spread of another potentially dangerous virus. As we watch COVID cases surge because of Delta, the flu vaccine also helps avoid symptoms that could be confused with COVID-19. With many of us going back to work and school this fall, we want to reduce the spread of both influenza viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19. If possible, get your flu vaccine by the end of October, but it’s still beneficial even if you get it later in the year. It’s also safe to get your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations at the same time. You can also space them out if you prefer.
Vaccinate For A Healthy Fall and Winter
So many of us have high hopes for this fall and winter. We want to keep our kids in school in person. We’re looking forward to safe holidays with family after skipping get-togethers last year. Vaccinating for both COVID and the flu is the best way to ensure a healthy fall and winter. Comprehensive Primary Care now offers the flu shot at all of our office locations. Please make an appointment today for your flu shot. CPC also offers the Moderna COVID vaccine, including third doses for immunocompromised patients now–and boosters for healthy adults starting Sept. 20. We continue to provide both rapid antigen tests and PCR testing for COVID. CPC Let’s keep taking steps to keep ourselves, our families, and our community safe.