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The Flu You Should Guard Against (Besides COVID-19)

These days, most of us are preoccupied with the need for a COVID-19 vaccine. But we should pay attention to other vaccines as well. Here, from the Centers of Disease Control, are some common questions and answers:

What flu vaccines are recommended for the coming season?

For the 2020-2021 flu season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference for any one vaccine over another.

Vaccine options this season include:

Standard dose flu shots.

High-dose shots for people 65 years and older.

Shots made with adjuvant for people 65 years and older.

Shots made with virus grown in cell culture. No eggs are involved in the production of this vaccine. Most vaccines are made from flu viruses grown in eggs, a problem for patients with egg allergies.

Shots made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that do not require having a candidate vaccine virus (CVV) sample to produce.

Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). – A vaccine made with attenuated (weakened) live virus that is given by nasal spray.

Do we need to get a flu vaccine earlier this year (i.e. July/August)?

While the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has not yet voted on the flu vaccine recommendations for 2020-2021, CDC does not anticipate a major change in the recommendation on timing of vaccination. Getting vaccinated in July or August is too early, especially for older people, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.

You can get COVID-19 along with another flu.

Will there be changes in how and where flu vaccine is given this fall and winter?

How and where people get a flu vaccine may need to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC is working with healthcare providers and state and local health departments to develop contingency plans on how to vaccinate people against flu without increasing their risk of exposure to respiratory germs, like the virus that causes COVID-19.

Some settings that usually provide flu vaccine, like workplaces, may not offer vaccination this upcoming season, because of the challenges with maintaining social distancing. For more information on where you can get a flu vaccine, click here.

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

Influenza (Flu) 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 (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

To learn more about COVID-19, click here. To learn more about flu, click here.

Will there be flu along with COVID-19 in the fall and winter?

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. 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.

Can I have flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes. It is possible to have flu (as well as other respiratory illnesses) and COVID-19 at the same time. Experts are still studying how common this can be.

 

 

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