Flu shot: Avoid a dual infection

Archive, Month, November

An annual flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

In the fall of 2020, arguably the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States began a flu season that would ultimately see a record number of flu shots administered.

Prior to the availability of the first COVID-19 vaccines, the main motivation during the 2020-2021 flu season became avoiding a dual coronavirus and influenza infection, overwhelming the body’s immune system.

By the end of the flu season, more than 193.8 million flu shots had been given, with, in addition to COVID-19 mitigation strategies, led to one of the mildest flu seasons on record.

Those nearly 200 million people represented 54.8 percent of the eligible population, significantly higher than the previous season’s 48.4 percent.

This season, though, the numbers are lagging.

Through the first week of November, just 40.9 percent of adults have received the shot. Although an additional 17.6 percent said they plan to get it, it’s typically around this time that the flu shot rate begins to level off for the season.

With the high number of COVID-19 cases and increased hospitalizations, medical professionals have renewed their plea that everyone eligible (6 months and older) get their flu shot.

The protection offered by the flu shot (as well as one of the readily available COVID-19 vaccines and boosters) will aid greatly in remaining healthy through the winter.

COVID-19 and flu symptoms

Confusion and alarm can follow the mirroring symptoms of the flu and COVID-19.

The two conditions share many symptoms (with minor differences), but the overlap can still cause some to panic.

For instance, a cough is symptomatic of each, but it’s a dry cough that’s symptomatic of COVID-19 while a wet cough is associated with a cold and the flu. And COVID-19 is the only of the three illnesses that can lead to a loss of taste and smell.

Even breakthrough cases are associated with each condition (infections following full vaccination), symptoms in vaccinated individuals have been shown to be much milder (if any appear at all), leading to far less hospitalizations.

The only way to know for certain which illness is causing those symptoms is to get tested.