by Erin Moore, MD, Lexington Clinic Internal Medicine
While it may not be perfect, an annual flu vaccine remains the best way to protect against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. The best time to receive the vaccine is before the end of October. It takes about 2 weeks to develop the full antibody benefit from the vaccine and then will protect you throughout the rest of flu season in Kentucky, which lasts into May.
- Those who still get the flu after receiving the vaccine are much less likely to become seriously ill.
- Having a flu shot reduces deaths in both children and adults, Intensive Care Unit stays and hospital admissions.
- The vaccine has been shown to reduce hospitalizations in those with chronic lung or heart disease.
- A flu vaccine helps protect pregnant women during and after pregnancy and offers protection against flu for the baby for several months after birth.
- This year, a vaccine can also help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save important medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.
- Similarly, it may also reduce your trips to the doctor, hospital or pharmacy and therefore reduce YOUR potential exposures to COVID-19 in the community.
There are groups who are more at risk for catching the flu and for developing serious flu-related illness. It is even more important for these groups to receive their annual vaccine:
- Pregnant women or those planning for pregnancy during flu season
- Children between 6 months and 5 years of age and their caregivers
- Adults older than 50
- Those with chronic medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, heart and lung disease or with weakened immune systems
- Nursing home and long-term care facility residents
- Healthcare workers
Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but the people around you during flu season. So now is the time to get your flu vaccine. Ask your primary care provider for the vaccine at your next appointment.
Is it Flu or COVID-19?
Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19
Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
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, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above.
Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that differ from flu include change in or loss of taste or smell.
Dr. Erin Moore is board-certified in Internal Medicine and trained in Medical Acupuncture. She provides services in primary and preventive care, and her professional interests include management of chronic health conditions, preventive medicine, women’s health and plant-based nutrition.