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Flu vaccine in the time of COVID 19

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. 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.

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

Yes. Like any other viruses, it possible get infected with flu, other respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 together.

Since the flu season hasn’t started as yet, we do not know the symptoms or complications of getting both the viruses together as yet.

Is COVID-19 more dangerous than flu?

Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness and complications including but not limited to pneumonia and sepsis. There is a lot to learn about COVID 19 still and there is not enough information to state that it is more or less dangerous in comparison to the flu.

Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

No. Both the illnesses are caused by different viruses. The  vaccines are specific for each virus and do not offer any cross protection.  Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19.

Does a flu vaccination increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccination increases your risk of getting sick from any viruses- including coronavirus.

Why should I get a flu vaccine?

As discussed earlier, getting infected with the flu can make you very sick (especially if you have underlying health conditions or are in the vulnerable age group- < 5 years and more than 65 years).

– Since we don’t have a vaccine for coronavirus as yet, everyone is at risk of getting infected with the coronavirus and flu this fall/winter season.

-By getting the flu vaccine, you are protecting yourself from getting infected and sick from the Flu

– Decreasing the incidence of flu is especially important this year, in order to protect healthcare resources for people who get sick with COVID-19

When should you get the flu vaccine?

The flu season usually extends from October through April in the United States. It takes 2 weeks after getting the shot to develop full immunity.

 It is recommended that you get the vaccine in early-mid October to get maximum protection against the flu virus. However, it can be given anytime throughout the season.

I was diagnosed with COVID 19 in the summer. Should I still get the flu vaccine?

Yes. Again, the two infections are caused by completely different viruses. A previous confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID 19 does not protect you from future Flu infections.

It also does not alter the protection the Flu vaccine will provide against the Influenza virus.

Should a flu vaccine be given to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

Vaccination should be postponed for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, until they have met the criteria to discontinue their isolation. This is more to protect spread of COVID 19 to healthcare personnel and other patients. Once the isolation criteria have been met, or you have a negative COVID test, it is completely safe to get a flu vaccine.

Get your Flu vaccine this season! Please reach out to your physician for any other questions or concerns.


Dr. Vasudha Mahajan

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