Flu Vaccine Protects You and Helps In the Fight for COVID-19

By Eileen Doherty, MS ~

Denver, Colo. – Fall is flu season.  The flu affects adults age 65 and over as well as residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities and people of all ages with chronic diseases and medical diseases more frequently. Older adults are also especially at high risk of complications from the flu.

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are very different.  Since the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference based on the symptoms.  Testing may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis. CDC has released one test for both viruses.

The CDC believes that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this fall and winter.  Flu shots will be even more important, especially since people can have both COVID-19 and flu at the same time.   

Common symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headache. Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms for flu may be mild to severe, even including hospitalizations and death.  

If you also experience any or all of these symptoms, but also have trouble breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, inability to stay awake, bluish lips and a loss of taste or smell, seek immediate medical attention, as you may have COVID-19.

A flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu.  Getting flu vaccines in September and October are recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), especially for older adults.  

Since pneumonia is often associated with getting the flu, especially in older adults, you may want to either get a pneumonia shot for the first time, or you may need a second immunization.  Check with your health care provider.

Flu shots, as well as pneumonia shots, are paid in full by Medicare Part B, even if you have not met your annual deductible.  Some health insurance plans may require that you pay a co-pay.  At this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and other important people in your life.  Pharmacists, as well as physicians, nurses, and other trained health professionals can administer flu shots at the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, the long term care setting, or other community settings.  

If you need help finding a vaccine location near you search www.vaccinefinder.org/? or call 303-333-3482, 1-855-294-3971 or 1-855-880-4777 (Spanish) or www.senioranswers.org

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society.  Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the Director of the Society since 1982.  She teaches Nonprofit Management for Fort Hays State University.

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