The Flu Ends with You. Get Your Flu Shot Today.
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: The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
The looming 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. Symptoms do slightly vary between the COVID-19 and flu. Flu symptoms have a shorter onset than COVID-19, meaning symptoms appear much sooner. In addition to cough and fever, COVID-19 symptoms also include loss of taste or smell as well as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. 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. Recent studies have found that COVID-19 is generally more contagious than seasonal influenza.
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.
I just received a COVID-19 vaccine. How long do I have to wait to get the flu shot?
According to the CDC, flu vaccines can be co-administered with COVID-19 vaccines without regard to timing, including simultaneous administration and co-administration within 14 days. The previous recommendation of waiting at least 14 days before or after administering any vaccine was out of an abundance of caution and not due to any known safety concerns. There has been substantial data collected regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines being co-administered without regard to timing.
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.
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.
The flu ends with you. Get your flu shot today.
(Information on this page is provided by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)