According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this year’s flu season is expected to be more severe than last year’s. This is in part because of lower immunity among the general population as many experienced shutdowns during most of 2020. Now, health experts are urging the public to get their COVID-19 and annual flu vaccinations at the same time to better protect themselves against a possible twindemic – in which both the flu and COVID-19 viruses simultaneously spreads and causes infections.
Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses, and it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Older adults, especially people with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk, which is why these individuals need to take extra precaution such as vaccinations and other measure to help prevent getting ill. Here are six tips from John Kim, MD, chief medical officer for Alignment Health Plan, for staying healthy during the fall and winter months:
  • Speak with your doctor about which flu vaccine is right for you and your family. For the 2021-22 flu season, there are two types of injectable vaccines and one that is given by nasal spray. According to the CDC, different flu vaccines are approved for people of different ages and health statuses. For example, people with some chronic health conditions should not get some types of influenza vaccines while others should not receive flu vaccines at all (though uncommon).
  • Schedule your flu shot. If possible, schedule it at the same time as your COVID-19 booster shot for dual protection.
    • While both vaccines can be given at the same visit, seniors should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine. 
    • If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
  • Schedule your COVID-19 booster vaccination. If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine and it’s been six months since your last dose, getting a booster shot will help bolster your immunity and keep you protected for the months ahead. To learn whether you’re eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot, visit the CDC’s booster shots webpage.
  • Consider curbside or drive-through vaccination sites. If you live in an area that has community transmission, schedule appointments at locations with limited in-person interactions and that allow you to stay in your car for your safety as well as for the safety of staff and other patients.
  • Practice health and safety measures. Continue to follow the recommended health and safety measures, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, maintaining physical distances, and limiting the size of group gatherings, especially those indoors. In addition, make sure you have fever-reducing medication at home, and drink plenty of water if you get sick.
Maximize benefits offered by your health plans. A lot of health plans such as Alignment Health Plan offer free transportation to vaccination clinics, free fitness classes to stay healthy as well as over-the-counter allowances that could be used toward supplies such as Vitamin C and Zinc supplements that help boost immunity.