2021 Flu Season – What to Expect

The 2021-2022 Flu Season – What to Expect

October in North Florida brings a drop in humidity and temperature, pumpkin spice everything and, unfortunately, the start of the annual flu season. The flu season typically starts in October and runs through May, with its peak from December through March. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity was unusually low in the 2020-2021 season. This can be largely attributed to social distancing and masking measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What can we expect for the 2021-2022 flu season as COVID continues?

The 2021-2022 flu season may be worse than last year.

There is a lot of uncertainty about this year’s flu season, with many health experts believing that it could be considerably worse than last year. Every flu season results in a buildup of some natural immunity that makes it harder for the flu to spread at the start of the next season. Fewer cases last season means there is less natural immunity in the population right now. That, coupled with a relaxation of COVID-19 precautions across the US, could mean we’re in for a tough year.

What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

The flu and Covid-19 are both respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by infection with the influenza virus and Covid-19 by infection with the coronavirus. Both diseases are primarily spread between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) through respiratory droplets released when a person sneezes, coughs and talks.  These droplets can land in the noses or mouths of people nearby, infecting them with the virus. While both the flu and Covid-19 are spread in the same way, Covid is generally more contagious than the flu.

How do I know if I have the flu or COVID 19?

Because the flu and Covid-19 are both respiratory viruses, their symptoms can be very similar including:

  • Fever & chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache

The similarity in symptoms makes it very difficult to diagnose which virus a patient has without testing. It is also possible to have both diseases as the same time. MedOne Urgent Care offers testing for both influenza and COVID-19 with same day results in most cases.

How is the flu treated?

Most people infected with the flu can recover at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications. If your symptoms worsen or you are at high risk (over age 65 or under 2 years of age), visit your local urgent care center for treatment. If symptoms are severe, including respiratory distress, intense chest pain and sudden dizziness or confusion, immediately go to your local emergency room.

How do I protect myself and my family from the flu?

The single best protection against the flu is vaccination. The CDC recommends that adults and children older than 6 months get a flu shot every year. While no vaccine is 100% effective, it will greatly reduce your chance of getting very sick, being hospitalized or dying. Even if you’ve had a flu shot in the past, it’s important to make sure you get a new vaccination each year. This is because the vaccine composition is reviewed and updated each year based upon existing influenza strains.

Can the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine be given at the same time?

The CDC says that it is safe to get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. One vaccine is not a substitute for the other. The flu and COVID-19 are two distinct viruses, so they require two different vaccinations.

Have questions?

The medical professionals at MedOne Urgent Care at St. Augustine are here to answer any questions you may have about the flu, COVID-19 and vaccinations. Call us at (904) 436-1553. We’re here for the treatment of injuries and illnesses 7 days a week from 9 am – 6 pm weekdays and 9 am – 5 pm weekends; no appointment necessary.

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