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Posted on: October 12, 2020

Staying Healthy This Flu Season

An illustration of a doctor pointing to text that reads: get your Flu Shot today.

Influenza (Flu) season is on our doorstep, but this season is different than what we’ve experienced in previous years. The main difference is that we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and those around you from getting sick. You should talk with a healthcare provider to determine what vaccines are best for you. Although a vaccine has not yet been approved for COVID-19, flu vaccines can help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is recommended to receive your flu shots before the end of October. To find flu shot locations near you, please check with your local clinic and pharmacies.

The flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are separate illnesses and are caused by different viruses. It can be hard to tell the difference between them because some of the symptoms are similar. Here are some common symptoms:

Symptom

Flu

COVID-19

Fever or feeling feverish/chills

X

X

Cough

X

X

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

X

X

Fatigue (tiredness)

X

X

Sore throat

X

X

Runny or stuffy nose

X

X

Muscle pain or body aches

X

X

Headache

X

X

Vomiting and diarrhea*

X

X

Change in or loss of taste or smell

 

X

This table does not include all symptoms. If you are not feeling well and are experiencing symptoms that are not in this table, contact a health care provider.

*Some people with the flu or COVID-19 may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

What You Can Do

Fortunately, all of the recommendations that we have been following to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will also help prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses like pneumonia. Additionally, we recommend you talk to a healthcare or vaccine provider about your options for vaccines. Here are some of the steps you can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of these illnesses:

  • Get your flu shot
  • Stay at home when you are sick, unless you are going to the doctor.
  • Stay at least six feet from people who do not live in your household. Avoid contact with anyone who is sick, even if they live with you.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when you are in public if you are medically able.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and things you touch often, such as tables, chairs, doorknobs, and light switches. 
  • Ask people not to visit your home if they have symptoms.
  • Follow information from your local Public Health Department.

If You Feel Sick or Have Been Exposed

If you are experiencing symptoms listed in the table above, stay home and follow these steps:

  1. Contact a healthcare provider. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested.
  2. Follow instructions from your healthcare provider and local Public Health Department. They may give you instructions on how to check your symptoms and report information.
  3. If you are experiencing the following symptoms seek emergency medical care immediately: 
    1. Trouble breathing
    2. Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    3. New confusion
    4. Inability to wake or stay awake
    5. Bluish lips or face
  4. Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. 
  5. Avoid public transportation unless it is necessary to seek medical care.

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