The 2020-21 flu season was mild, but health officials expect a more severe flu season this year.
You wake up feeling achy and weak. As the day goes on, you feel a fever coming on and start to cough. Is it just a cold or something worse, like the flu or COVID-19?
It’s hard to say.
“The symptoms of flu, the common cold, and COVID-19 are very difficult to distinguish from one another,” said D. Scott Smith, MD, chief of infectious disease and geographic medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center.
That’s why Dr. Smith and health care professionals across Kaiser Permanente are urging people to prepare for this year’s cold and flu season by getting vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is especially important as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.
“The flu virus will weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to catching other respiratory infections, including COVID-19,” said Margaret Khoury, MD, an infectious disease specialist who is the COVID-19 and influenza vaccination program physician lead for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California.
Everyone age 6 months and older should get their annual flu shot, the best defense against this serious respiratory illness. Flu vaccinations are available at no cost for Kaiser Permanente members. Visit kp.org/flu to find flu shot locations near you.
The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone age 12 and older and is available at no cost. Visit kp.org/covidvaccine to schedule an appointment.
It’s safe to get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time, with no wait time in between.
The flu can be dangerous, especially for kids, people age 65 and up, and people who are pregnant or have a chronic health condition. And, while the 2020-21 flu season was mild, health officials are bracing for a more severe flu season this year.
During the 2020-21 flu season, most schools were closed, and many people were staying home to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Now, schools and businesses have largely reopened, and people are traveling and going out more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the 2021-22 flu season could come early and be more severe.