Be a Hero. Fight the Flu.
FACT: You can have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
FACT: This year it’s even more important for those who are at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 to get their flu shot.
FACT: Between 39 million and 56 million people suffered flu illnesses during the 2019-20 season.
FACT: There were up to 740,000 flu hospitalizations last year.
FACT: Between 24,000 and 62,000 people died from flu-related illnesses last year.
FACT: The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
The presence of COVID-19 this year makes it more important than ever for everyone to get vaccinated against the flu. Though the flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19, it can reduce the risk of flu illness and hospitalizations and ultimately help to preserve health care system capabilities and protect our health care workers.
As part of Hattiesburg Clinic’s commitment to caring for the overall health of our patients, we recommend vaccination against the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends yearly vaccination for people 6 months and older, especially those who are at high risk of serious complications from the illness.
What is the Flu?
Influenza (also called flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. The flu can cause mild to severe illness and can even lead to death. Complications from the flu can include pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections and worsening chronic medical conditions, like congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
Flu virus can be spread by tiny droplets when those who are infected cough, sneeze or talk. It can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of the flu typically start suddenly, not gradually. People with the flu often experience some or all of the following:
- Fever or chills (not everyone has fever with flu)
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Feeling very tired
- Vomiting or diarrhea (more common in young children)
You may begin experiencing symptoms between one and four days from the time you are exposed and infected with flu virus. You should see a doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.
What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?
Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, so it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.
Is COVID-19 more dangerous than flu?
Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness, including illness resulting in hospitalization or death. While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, at this time, it does seem as if COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza; however, it is too early to draw any conclusions from the current data. This may change as we learn more about the number of people who are infected who have mild illnesses.
Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however, flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.
What if I tested positive for COVID-19? Can I still get my flu shot?
Routine vaccination should be deferred for persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, until criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. While mild illness is not a contraindication to vaccination, vaccination visits for these individuals should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccination, patients should be instructed to notify the provider’s office in advance if they currently have or develop any symptoms of COVID-19.
Who should get their flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Influenza vaccines should be administered to all eligible persons, including:
Essential workers: Including healthcare personnel (including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff) and other critical infrastructure workforce.
Persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: Including adults aged 65 years and older, residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and persons of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions. Severe illness from COVID-19 has been observed to disproportionately affect members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups.
Persons at increased risk for serious influenza complications: Including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 years and older, and other persons with certain underlying medical conditions.
Who is at risk?
While anyone can get the flu and experience issues from the virus, some people are at high risk of developing complications related to the flu.
- Young children (especially 6 months through 4-years-old)
- Adults 50 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People with medical conditions, such as asthma, neurological disorders, lung disease, heart disease, weakened immune system, extreme obesity, etc.
Preventing the Flu
The first and most important way to fight the flu is to get vaccinated each year. While there may be some reduced vaccine effectiveness against some flu viruses, vaccination can still prevent some flu illnesses, medical visits and hospitalizations. The CDC says that even if someone gets sick after vaccination, their illness may be milder.
Flu vaccinations are available at your primary care provider’s office. As a convenience to our patients and the community, Hattiesburg Clinic offers a flu vaccination clinic Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the first floor, near the Laboratory department, at our main clinic.
You can also take everyday preventative steps to stop the spread of germs.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- If sick, limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
- If you have flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except for medical care or other necessities.
- Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing (trash tissue when done).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated
Hattiesburg Clinic providers and staff offer the opportunity to discuss flu vaccination with patients and answer questions about vaccination. If would like to get vaccinated, please talk to your primary care provider or visit us at our flu vaccination clinic. For questions about the walk-in flu vaccination clinic, call (601) 261-1620. Click here for a complete listing of our departments.
Treating the Flu
There are prescription medications for treating flu called “antiviral drugs.” When started within two days of showing symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick. They could also reduce the risk of complications.
Particularly for those who are at high risk of serious flu complications, early treatment with antiviral drugs can make a difference between the severity of flu illness and the risk of hospitalization. Your doctor can talk with you about whether this treatment option is right for you.
Don’t wait. Start fighting the flu now.
(Information on this page is provided by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)