COVID-19 and Flu Season: What It May Mean for You   

COVID-19 and Flu Season: What It May Mean for You

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Aysha Seeni, M.D.

Updated: 12/22/20

Until there is widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and we have achieved herd immunity, COVID-19 must remain top of mind when it comes to you and your family’s health and well-being. As we head into flu season, this year, we need to protect ourselves from COVID-19 on top of seasonal flu. Here are tips for staying healthy.

Rethink Holiday Gatherings

With the holiday season right around the corner, you may want to reconsider traveling long distances and engaging with loved ones as a way to keep everyone healthy. “This is a time of year when we typically enjoy parties and spending time with the ones we love,” says Pamela Orellana, M.D., a family medicine specialist in Weehawken, New Jersey. “But to protect our families from COVID-19, and continue slowing the spread, gatherings should continue to look different this year—smaller, social-distanced where possible and with masks worn.”

Understand the Symptoms

As it gets colder outside, it’s important to know the symptoms of both COVID-19 and seasonal flu, which are largely similar. Both can cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, congestion or runny nose, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. If you or a family member experiences these symptoms, call your primary care doctor immediately and isolate yourself from others until you can be tested for COVID-19. “It is easy to misconstrue the seasonal flu or common cold for COVID-19 because of the similar symptoms your body may experience in such a short period of time,” says Aysha Seeni, M.D., internal medicine specialist in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Keep Protecting Yourself

“Especially as stores, restaurants and other establishments remain open and welcome more patrons, it’s critical to practice social distancing and always wear a mask if you are going into a public place,” says Dr. Orellana. “A simple cloth mask and staying at least six feet away from other individuals can slow the spread of the virus.”

Get a Flu Shot

Help protect your family by making sure everyone has their flu shot. “Although we recommend getting the flu shot between the beginning of September and the end of October, it’s not too late to get the vaccine” says Dr. Seeni. “Flu season starts in early October and can last until March. Even if you got a shot last year, you should get vaccinated annually to protect your immune system. Each year, there can be a different strand of the virus that goes around.”

The flu shot doesn’t directly protect against COVID-19, but it can keep you from getting sick from the flu and reduce your risk of being hospitalized. “As we continue to fight COVID-19, we want everyone to remain as healthy as they can to avoid overcrowding and overwhelming our Emergency Departments,” says Dr. Orellana.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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By the Numbers: Getting Ahead of Flu Season

Every year like clockwork, the flu season descends again. While most people can recover from the flu without complications, the virus can be dangerous for others with weakened immune systems. 

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