Get a Flu Shot Now, Stay Healthier Later

by Delilah Newton | Sep 22, 2021

Once again, flu season and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are colliding this year. With an abundance of similar symptoms between the two, how can you and your loved ones stay healthy and know the similarities and differences between a possible COVID infection or bout of influenza.

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with coronavirus or a variant, and influenza (“flu”) is caused by infection with one of many influenza viruses that spread annually among people. People can be infected with both a flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. In general, COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. Both make prevention very important and the best way to keep you and your family well.

Through the pandemic, people learned a lot about the difference proper hand-hygiene and other precautions make in limiting viral spread. Frequent hand-washing, masking, physical distancing and regularly disinfecting common surfaces and household items is a great way to keep germs at bay. However, getting vaccinated is the best, most assured way to prevent illness, or if infected, make your illness less severe. 

What you need to know: Flu Vaccine vs COVID Vaccines

There are a few different types of flu vaccine available for 2021 that are designed to generally protect against four different strains of the virus. Three types of COVID vaccines are available -- Pfizer (ages 12 and up), Moderna (ages 18 and up) and Johnson & Johnson (ages 18 and up). All types of flu and COVID vaccines are well-researched, safe and effective. Both vaccinations teach your body how to fight infection by creating antibodies. If you have questions about which type of flu and COVID vaccine is best for you, consult your doctor. 

It is recommended to received your flu shot by the end of October in order to give your body time to build antibodies and maintain protection through the height of influenza season. If you have previously received your COVID vaccine (including booster shot) it is safe to receive a flu shot. If you have not yet received COVID-19 vaccination, it is also safe to get vaccinated against both COVID and flu at the same time.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a FAQ guide to information on flu and COVID-19. Contact your primary care provider to schedule an appointment. Don't have a primary care physician? WellConnect can assist you in finding a healthcare provider.

What to do if you develop symptoms

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.

Because some symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, people should be tested to tell what virus is causing their illness. If you develop any symptoms of illness, stay away from others except to seek testing or medical care. Consult our safety guidelines for more information. 

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