Why this flu season is different – and what you need to do
This year’s flu season, which typically occurs in the fall and winter months, is paired with a pandemic – making the extra protection a flu shot provides very important. Jaqui Jones, MD, explained why and what else you can do to protect yourself.
Why get a flu shot?
Getting the flu shot will decrease your risk of getting sick. If you do get the flu, it can help decrease the length and severity of your sickness. “It is potentially dangerous to have both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time and we aren’t sure what the outcome of that would be yet,” said Dr. Jones.
When is the best time to get the flu shot?
“The best time for flu vaccination is early fall,” said Dr. Jones. This means you will be vaccinated before flu season truly hits. The vaccine takes about two weeks to develop the protection you need against the flu. “As we go into the holiday season and the flu is ramping up, you want to get your flu shot before that hits.”
Most doctor’s offices and pharmacies begin giving flu shots as early as September. While early fall is recommended, it is never too late to get a flu shot during flu season. “Better late than never,” said Dr. Jones.
If you’re concerned about COVID-19, where’s the safest place to get a flu shot?
As long as the facility you are going to is following prevention guidelines against COVID-19, you should be safe getting your flu vaccine. “Remember to wear your mask, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene when getting your flu shot. Most facilities giving flu shots are thinking about your COVID-19 safety and your protection against the flu,” said Dr. Jones.
What else can you do to protect yourself from the flu?
Dr. Jones shared some habits that are important to practice, especially when it comes to fighting both the flu and COVID-19.
- Practice good hand hygiene
- Wear your mask
- Get good sleep
- Keep yourself healthy
- Take your medications
- Practice social distancing
When should you seek care for flu symptoms?
If you are experiencing flu symptoms, give your doctor a call and let them know about your symptoms. There are medications you can get during the early days of symptoms to help you fight the flu. In most cases with mild symptoms, the flu can be treated at home. “If treating your symptoms at home, you can take acetaminophen and ibuprofen. It is important to eat normally, hydrate and rest,” said Dr. Jones.
If your symptoms worsen, give your doctor a call and let them know. “If you are experiencing a fever of 100.4 or higher, have shortness of breath or are in lots of pain with body aches, then you need to see your doctor to make sure there isn’t more that can be done to help you get better,” said Dr. Jones.
Why can’t an antibiotic be taken to treat the flu?
The flu is a virus and antibiotics aren’t used to treat viruses. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections.
Fight the flu
Get your flu shot and learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and others.Learn More About Getting a Flu Shot