The next essay is reprinted with permission from The Dialog, a web-based publication masking the most recent analysis.
At this level within the COVID-19 pandemic, practically everybody has skilled the panic and uncertainty that include having delicate COVID-like signs—resembling a cough and sore throat—solely to check adverse day after day. With chilly and flu season simply across the nook, that state of irritating uncertainty is more likely to strike most of us once more.
Each COVID-19 and the flu are contagious respiratory sicknesses which have related signs, making it tough to differentiate between the 2 viral infections with no lab take a look at. Testing is the one technique to know which virus is inflicting your signs. In reality, labs are working to create one take a look at that may detect each COVID-19 and the flu.
As a nursing professor with expertise in public well being promotion, I’m usually requested in regards to the variations between the flu and COVID-19. This 12 months I’m fielding many questions on the timing of getting the brand new COVID-19 booster and the flu shot and whether or not they are often given collectively.
Parsing the signs
Signs of each COVID-19 and the flu can vary from delicate—or no noticeable signs in any respect—to extreme. Whereas flu an infection doesn’t sometimes have an effect on one’s means to style or odor, lack of style or odor has been a standard symptom related to COVID-19 an infection. Each infections could cause fevers, chills, physique aches and fatigue. Extra extreme signs of both an infection embody problem respiratory and subsequent infections like pneumonia.
Through the 2021-2022 flu season, the time period “flurona” made its method into the COVID-19 vernacular. Flurona refers to a simultaneous an infection with each the flu and COVID-19. Whereas just a few instances of co-infections have been reported, it could not be shocking to see extra of them this coming flu season. Vaccination for each the flu and COVID-19 is your finest safety towards each.
Timing the photographs
With the newly formulated COVID-19 booster shot now accessible and flu season simply across the nook, a pure query is whether or not there’s an optimum timing for the 2 photographs.
The reply to that query is to get each as quickly as potential. It is very important take into account that it takes roughly two weeks after vaccination for the physique to develop antibodies from each the COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine.
So long as you will have accomplished your main COVID-19 vaccine sequence and it has been at the very least eight weeks since your final COVID-19 booster, now’s the time to get the up to date COVID-19 vaccine that targets each the unique pressure of SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—and the newest omicron subvariants. The unique COVID-19 vaccines and booster sequence have dramatically lowered the variety of COVID-19 an infection and demise charges, in addition to instances of extreme COVID-19 that result in hospitalization.
Whereas everybody 6 months of age and older are really useful to obtain each the COVID-19 and flu vaccines, sure populations have the next threat for extreme an infection, resembling pregnant ladies, and ought to be additional vigilant about getting vaccinated.
Additional, amongst these vaccinated towards COVID-19, signs throughout an an infection are typically milder. Nonetheless, due partially to the shortly evolving nature of the virus, it’s develop into clear that immune safety from COVID-19 vaccination or an infection doesn’t final without end. Whereas research present that the first COVID-19 sequence maintains efficacy towards extreme illness and demise six months after vaccination, safety towards an infection decreases by between 20% to 30% by six months after vaccination.
This decline in immune safety is precisely why booster photographs are so important. With out a big uptake of booster photographs within the inhabitants, COVID-19 an infection charges might surge once more.
Timing can also be necessary with the flu vaccine. Flu instances sometimes start to rise in October and peak between December and February, however can final via Might. Ideally, individuals ought to get vaccinated earlier than flu begins to unfold, making September or early October the best flu vaccination time.
A tough flu season forward
On account of lockdowns, lowered journey, faculty closures and masks mandates within the first and second years of the pandemic, each the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 flu seasons had been estimated to have fewer hospitalizations and deaths from the flu in comparison with lots of the pre-pandemic years.
Within the fall of 2021, specialists turned involved in regards to the potential for a COVID-19 and flu “twindemic,” particularly as COVID-19 restrictions had been lifting and masks had been coming off. Luckily, the worst didn’t bear out—flu numbers within the 2021-2022 season didn’t return to pre-pandemic ranges. Nonetheless, the potential of a “twindemic” is just not out of the image for the approaching flu season.
Flu seasons are inherently tough to foretell. With most individuals touring once more, faculties open, masks mandates lifted and employees headed again to the workplace, persons are undoubtedly going to be uncovered to germs that they’ve been extra shielded from for the final two and a half years.
To additional compound this, flu vaccine charges have been decrease in the course of the pandemic, suggesting that People could also be out of the behavior of getting their annual flu shot.
Pairing the photographs
Many are additionally questioning whether or not they can or ought to get each the up to date COVID-19 booster and the flu shot on the similar time. The excellent news is, sure, it’s secure for each adults and youngsters 12 years of age and up who’re eligible for the up to date COVID-19 booster to get these vaccines concurrently.
A current examine discovered that widespread vaccine negative effects resembling ache on the injection web site occurred at barely increased charges when somebody obtained the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine on the similar time, versus receiving solely a COVID-19 booster. Nonetheless, these reactions, together with fatigue and headache, had been delicate and resolved inside a day or two.
You don’t have to make two separate vaccine visits so long as you might be due to your subsequent COVID-19 shot. Nonetheless, I don’t advocate ready to get your flu shot in case you are not but due for a COVID-19 booster. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention suggests everybody obtain their flu vaccine by the tip of October. However in case you miss that deadline, it’s completely higher to get vaccinated later within the season than in no way.
Neighborhood issues too
Getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines isn’t nearly your individual well being, it’s about household and group well being too. Communities with increased vaccination charges have fewer alternatives to unfold the virus.
Consider that many individuals can’t be vaccinated as a result of they’ve weakened immune methods or are present process therapies. They rely on these round them for cover. Whereas one particular person might expertise delicate signs in the event that they contract the flu or COVID-19, they may unfold the virus to others who might develop into severely ailing. As a result of it’s unimaginable to foretell how individuals will react in the event that they get sick, getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines is the perfect prevention technique.