As if COVID-19 wasn’t dangerous enough, flu season is coming up as quick as a flash. This fall, people will be at risk of becoming sick with both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. With that double-threat, what should you do to get ready and keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible during flu season? There are 3 steps you need to take to get ready for the flu in the middle of this pandemic.
Make Sure You Don’t Have COVID-19 Already
It’s scary to think about whether or not you might already be carrying the Coronavirus and not even know it. Before you can get ready for the flu, you should get tested for COVID-19. Even if you aren’t showing any symptoms, you need to make sure that you aren’t a carrier. This is for your sake, your loved ones’ benefit, and the safety of just about anybody you might come into contact with.
Free testing is offered in a lot of communities, and even by various retailers. The Centers for Disease Control maintains a site that tells you who should get tested, and how to find test locations. It’s worth noting that some pharmacies offer free COVID-19 testing, whether you are showing symptoms or not.
Get Your Flu Shot as Early as Possible
In 2019, less than 50% of Americans received the flu shot, but the CDC hopes this figure will increase to at least 65% this year. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of CDC, has previously warned that the United States could experience serious health challenges with both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza spreading.
While the flu shot may not be 100% effective, it can reduce your likelihood of getting sick and needing a doctor’s care by 40 to 60%, according to the CDC. Even when the predominant strain of influenza transmitted is different from that included in the flu vaccine, the antibodies your body builds in reaction to the shot can help. Redfield said the flu shot can help reduce the severity of illness if you do catch the flu.
Know the Difference Between COVID-19 and the Flu
It’s important to realize that the flu and COVID-19 are two different viruses, two different illnesses. While both are contagious respiratory illnesses and share some of the same symptoms, there are differences to note.
Both illnesses can give you a fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and fatigue. They can both make you feel achy, either throughout your whole body or just with a headache. Influenza and COVID-19 can also cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. In some cases, more common in children than adults, both can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
In addition to the above common symptoms, COVID-19 can cause you to experience a change in or loss of taste or smell. Furthermore, the symptoms of COVID-19 can be much more severe, and lead to more life-threatening complications than influenza alone usually causes.
Keep Up with Your Sanitization and Social Distancing
Summer was a huge temptation for many, luring people to beaches and theme parks despite the threat of COVID-19. If you continued to be vigilant about washing your hands, wearing a face covering, and maintaining social distancing even with the siren call of summer, good for you.
The flu season isn’t the time to let our guard down, though. Fall is host to a number of holiday parties, from Halloween to Thanksgiving. We all want to be with our family and friends, but it’s important to keep safe while you’re at it.
Make sure you’re following the right steps to keep yourself from getting sick even before the flu season kicks in. Protecting yourself by washing your hands and disinfecting your surroundings will help you not only fight off the flu but COVID-19 as well.