Getting a flu vaccine this Fall is more important than ever, both to reduce risk from flu but also to conserve scare healthcare resources.
The COVID-19 outbreak has raised a lot of questions about the flu. Since Fall is flu season, this is the perfect time to address these questions.
First of all, how and where patients actually get their annual flu vaccine may change. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working with healthcare providers and local health departments to develop contingency plans on how to vaccinate patients against the flu without increasing their risk of exposure to respiratory germs, like the virus that causes COVID-19, and has issued special guidelines. Let your patients know that settings that typically provide the flu vaccine, like workplaces, may not offer vaccination this season due to social distancing and work-from-home orders.
Many patients ask if there is a difference between the flu and COVID-19 and indeed there is. While both are contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar so it can be hard to tell the difference between the two and diagnostic testing may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis. If a patient is feeling flu-like symptoms, they should talk to you for guidance on what steps to take.
Please let your patients know that the flu vaccine will not protect them against COVID-19 but the flu vaccine still has many important benefits. It’s an essential part of protecting patients and their family’s health this season. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this Fall is more important than ever, both to reduce risk from flu but also to conserve scare healthcare resources.
Advise patients that when going to get a flu vaccine, they should practice everyday preventive actions and follow the CDC guidelines for running essential errands. These include wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, using hand sanitizer after leaving stores and washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds upon returning home.