Get Prepared: Flu Season is Just Around the Corner
Fall is upon us, which means cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and flu season. Every year, the virus makes its rounds, but this year may feel a bit different given the current COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, not much will change in the way we prepare ourselves for the fight against the flu, and the best time to start is right now.
Get Vaccinated Now
The best first line of defense against the flu is getting your annual flu shot. Not only will the vaccine protect you and your loved ones, but it will also help reduce hospitalizations caused by the flu during the pandemic. The flu shot is necessary to receive yearly as different strains of the flu virus are more prevalent than others each season, and the vaccine is updated to match the circulating strains. The vaccine protects against the viruses determined to be the most common for the season. Whether you’re protected against three or four strains depends on which vaccine you receive.
The flu shot is recommended before the season really gets underway, usually in September or October. However, if the flu virus is still in circulation, you can still get a flu shot, even as late as January or beyond. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many workplaces or other locations are not offering vaccinations this season, but there are still plenty of places you can have one administered.
Follow Recommended Safety Precautions
To help further protect you and your family from the flu, you should always follow recommended safety precautions. Avoid any close contact with people who are sick, and if you should become ill, be sure to stay away from others as much as possible to avoid potentially spreading the virus. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue that can be thrown away immediately after use. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water, but if you don’t have access, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Just as advised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth in an effort to prevent germs from easily entering your body. Continue to clean and disinfect frequently-used surfaces and objects that could be contaminated with the flu virus.
Understand the Differences between Flu & COVID-19
It’s no question that this flu season will be quite different due to the presence of COVID-19. Feeling ill may have you wondering which virus you’ve been infected with and what you can do to help feel better and continue protecting others. Both of these viruses are contagious respiratory illnesses that, in some cases, could result in serious complications, including hospitalization and death, so in either case, precautions are essential. Both flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, including:
- Fever and/or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Vomiting and diarrhea, although this symptom is more common in children
The biggest symptom difference between the flu and COVID-19 that has been identified so far is a change in or loss of taste and smell. If you experience this symptom, you more than likely have been infected with the coronavirus.
Proper diagnosis is really the only way to determine if you have the flu or COVID-19. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms, contact your nearest Midwest Express Clinic today. We can discuss the symptoms over the phone and, if you are coming in for testing, provide instructions for your visit regarding our current protocols to keep our staff and other patients safe. Our professional medical staff can test you for both the flu and COVID-19, providing you an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan or instruction. Let’s work together this flu season to keep our communities and loved ones safe.