Flu season is on the way, and with COVID-19 still in the air, it might be beneficial to have a flu shot.
COVID-19 and influenza are two different viruses and according to Director of the Geary County Health Department Tammy Von Busch, a person can have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
This could be dangerous, if someone were to contract both viruses at once. It’s not a situation anyone wants or needs to be in.
"Both COVID-19 and flu are respiratory diseases,” Von Busch said. "Being infected with both could prove very bad for anyone who is potentially compromised in any way. There are deaths occurring in otherwise healthy people from COVID-19, and we don’t have a vaccine for that yet. People die from flu every year as well, and we do have a vaccine for that. It is important for people to protect themselves to prevent potentially getting both diseases. Even if you get the flu, the vaccine helps reduce the severity of the disease.”
It’s a concern and she believes there will be a spike in illness with flu season and COVID-19 circulating in the community together.
"Given the potential to become infected with flu and COVID-19, I anticipate we will see a lot of illness,” Von Busch said.
The Centers for Disease Control also encourages flu vaccinations.
"While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading,” The CDC website reads. "In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.”
The website confirms the possibility of having the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
"It is possible have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be,” the CDC website reads. "Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19."
As of right now, there are flu shots available at the health department for people of all ages who are able to have the vaccine. They are also available from area pharmacies and other distributors.
Von Busch encourages everyone who is able to vaccinate against the flu.
"Flu vaccine has many benefits,” she said. "It can keep you from getting sick with the flu; it can reduce the severity of your illness if you do get the flu; it can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalizations; it is an important preventive for people with chronic health conditions; getting vaccinated may also protect people around you.”
Now is a good time to receive the vaccine, Von Busch said, with early fall being the best time for a flu vaccine.
"It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop to provide protection against flu, so now is a good time to get your immunizations before flu starts circulating in the community,” she said.
For more information about the flu, people are encouraged to visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm and read up on the facts.