COVID-19 did not dip or disappear during the summer months as many hoped, far from it in fact. COVID-19 has proven to not be a seasonal disease, but plenty of other contagious viruses are. Viruses that cause the common cold, flu and other respiratory infections rise every fall and winter, however this winter the usual culprits are going to be circulating with COVID-19.
The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses that are very contagious. However, they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are very similar, so similar it may be hard to tell them apart based on symptoms alone and testing is needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a page that compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best and current information available.
Older people and those with long term or chronic illnesses have an increased risk of serious problems from flu and are also more vulnerable to COVID-19. Health experts don’t yet know what this flu season will look like, including the increased risk of serious illness for those who get both the flu and COVID-19 and the impact on hospitals, which typically see an influx of flu-related patients in the fall and winter.
Thankfully there are things you can do to keep you and your family healthy.
Get your flu shot! Getting the flu vaccine is the best thing you can do to reduce your chance of getting the flu; and if you do get the flu, your symptoms will likely be milder and not last as long compared with people who don’t get the vaccine.
Make sure your immunizations are up to date! The Tennessee Department of Health has seen a dip in immunizations since the pandemic. It’s very important to keep up with your family’s immunizations during this time. Information about routine vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit/vaccination-during-COVID-19.html .You can find information on Tennessee immunization requirements here.
Wash and dry your hands! Regularly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of catching a virus. If you touch a surface in a public place, try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first. If you don’t have access to soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol).
Keep your distance! It goes without saying at this point. Health experts continue to urge everyone to leave about 6 feet of space between you and the people around you. It reduces your chance of catching a virus or passing it on before you realize you’re sick.
Clean shared spaces! Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like, doorknobs, door handles, tables, fridge doors and bathrooms regularly.
Be prepared! Make sure to have some essentials on hand just in case you or a family does get the flu or COVID-19. Stocking up now will help prevent you or someone from running errands while contagious. Keep these items handy at home; tissues, medicines to help relieve symptoms, ingredients for a soothing drink such as hot lemon, honey and ginger, and food such as a nourishing soup or stew that can be eaten during recovery.