With the rise of COVID-19 over the past few years, you may wonder if the influenza virus is still around and something to worry about. And if it is, how can we tell it apart from COVID-19?
You might be asking, “Is the flu still contagious? Should I still get a seasonal flu shot?”
In this article, we’ll answer these questions by giving you information on what you need to know about this year’s flu season and how you can prepare.
Influenza vs. coronavirus: what’s the difference?
According to the CDC, influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. Compared to the flu, COVID-19 spreads more quickly and can cause serious health complications. But both of these illnesses have the same symptoms and can potentially cause life-threatening illnesses, which is why it’s difficult to tell whether one person has the flu or COVID-19 just by looking at the signs.
Read related post: COVID-19’s Omicron Variant is Still Here: Here Are its Signs and Symptoms
If you’re experiencing symptoms like fever or shortness of breath, the best way to determine whether it’s the flu or something else is to take a test. Our urgent care centers in Lincoln, CA and Granite Bay, CA, offer COVID-19 testing.
What you need to know about the 2022-2023 flu season
Seasonal flu viruses are detected year-round in the United States but are most common during the fall and winter. Often, flu activities start to increase in October and peak between December and February.
According to CDC, here are a few things that are different for the 2022-2023 flu season:
- The composition of flu vaccines has been updated.
- For those 65 years and older, three flu vaccines are preferentially recommended. These are the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine.
- Getting the seasonal flu shot around the same time as last year is still recommended. For most people who need only one dose for the season, it’s a good idea to get a seasonal flu shot in September or October. Vaccination in July and August is not recommended for most adults but can be considered for some groups. While it’s ideal to get your seasonal flu shot by the end of October, vaccination after October can still protect you during the peak of flu season.
- The age indication for the cell culture-based inactivated flu vaccine, Flucelvax Quadrivalent (ccIIV4), changed from 2 years to 6 months and older.
- Pre-filled Afluria Quadrivalent flu shots for children are not expected to be available this season. However, children can receive this vaccine from a multidose vial at the recommended dose.
If you’re from Lincoln, CA, or Granite Bay, CA, our urgent care centers provide the 2022-2023 formula of Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine for 65 years and older and the Flucelvax Quadrivalent for 6 months and older.
How to prepare for the flu season
Compared to COVID-19, the number of those infected with the flu virus in the United States in recent months is comparatively low based on CDC’s data. However, it doesn’t mean that you’re safe from it. After all, if you’re wondering, “is flu still contagious?” – the answer is: yes, it still is. Like COVID-19, the flu is a contagious illness; you can catch it from anyone you’re in contact with at home, school, work, or anywhere you go.
And if you catch it, it can lead to more severe health complications like pneumonia, other life-threatening illnesses, or even death. That’s why prevention is still important.
The CDC recommends three actions to take to protect yourself and your loved ones against the seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications.
- Get vaccinated every year. Everyone 6 months and older should get the seasonal flu shot yearly, with a few exceptions. Talk to your doctor or health care provider first if you are unsure whether you can get a vaccine. If you’re from Lincoln, CA or Granite Bay, CA, visit our urgent care centers to get your seasonal flu shot or get in touch with us for an appointment.
- Take action every day to help stop the spread of germs. These include good health habits like avoiding people who are sick, staying home if you feel ill, covering your mouth and nose when coughing, frequently washing your hands, and not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. And keep yourself healthy by getting plenty of quality sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking lots of fluids, and eating a nutritious diet.
- Take flu antiviral viral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral drugs may be a treatment option if you get sick with the flu. According to CDC, they can lessen symptoms and shorten your sick time by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. Prompt treatment is recommended for people with the flu or suspected flu and those at higher risk of severe flu complications.
Where can I get my seasonal flu shot?
If you live near Lincoln, CA or Granite Bay, CA, visit our urgent care centers to get your seasonal flu shot. Book your flu shot appointment by getting in touch with us by phone or by email.