Experts say we could be in for a double seasonal sickness whammy with an early start to what could be a bad flu season and a fall COVID-19 surge.
The best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications is with a flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are updated each season because flu viruses are constantly changing. Also, immunity wanes over time.
Annual vaccination helps to ensure the best possible protection against flu. A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
Most people need only one dose of flu vaccine for the season. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
This year everyone is encouraged to get flu shots and COVID boosters simultaneously as soon as possible as trends point to a start to flu season as early as October.
As far as the flu goes, experts expect it to be not only an early season but a bad one because the infectious disease control measures that were still practiced last year for COVID — such as masking and social distancing, which also helped to mitigate the spread of seasonal flu — are no longer in place.
In anticipation of a more severe flu season coupled with a potential COVID surge, hospitals across the nation since June have activated contingency plans for the fall and winter season that involve stocking up on antivirals and antibiotics and making sure hospitals have extra personal protective equipment (PPE).
What About the New COVID Boosters?
COVID-19 and influenza are both contagious respiratory viruses, and all Americans are encouraged to receive a flu vaccine and the new omicron-specific COVID-19 booster vaccine simultaneously. The omicron-specific booster is now available in many parts of the US and will soon be available everywhere.
Experts remind people that COVID-19 and the flu virus can look similar. They share the same symptoms of fever, chills, body aches, runny nose, headache, and fatigue. However, they are treated differently. If people have symptoms, they should get tested to find out which virus they have and what treatment methods are appropriate.
Editor’s Note: This article does not take the place of professional medical advice. Please seek professional medical advice from your doctor on what is best for you regarding taking a vaccine, if you decide to take a vaccine at all.