COVID and the flu: Are you able to get each on the similar time?

Don't wait to get your flu shot. Here's what to know about the season ahead

A co-infection of COVID and the flu may be tough to detect with out testing.


Sarah Tew/CNET

For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

After a 2020-2021 flu season that noticed an unprecedented decline in yearly circumstances, influenza circumstances have rebounded in 2021-22, spawning considerations of a COVID-19 and flu “twindemic.” The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention studies that 1,804 individuals have been hospitalized with influenza for the week ending Jan. 8. That is virtually as many as who have been contaminated in your complete 2020-2021 flu season.

One distinction this yr is that the present flu vaccine appears to be a poor match for the dominant pressure of influenza. “From our lab-based research it seems to be like a significant mismatch,” Scott Hensley, a microbiologist on the College of Pennsylvania, informed CNN.

A much less efficient flu vaccine, mixed with a lifting of lockdowns and masks mandates, might push 2021-2022 again to a extra typical flu season, in accordance with the CDC, with tens of millions of People catching the flu and tens of 1000’s dying from it. 

What’s worse than catching the flu? An co-infection of each flu and COVID-19 on the similar time. Well being care professionals all over the world have began reporting circumstances of sufferers contracting COVID-19 and influenza concurrently, a phenomenon dubbed “flurona” that may carry further dangers to these with underlying well being points.

After Israel reported its first case of flurona on Jan. 2, an unvaccinated teen in California was reported on Jan. 5, per CBS Los Angeles. Since then, further circumstances have popped up in Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina.

“For usually wholesome individuals, the mix might trigger sickness that retains them residence and in mattress for some time, feeling fairly dangerous,” Dr. Nancy Gin, vp and chief high quality officer for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, informed The Orange County Register. “For individuals with present high-risk medical circumstances like diabetes or coronary heart or lung illness, the end result might be admission to the ICU and probably dying.”

That is why getting each a flu shot and COVID vaccine (and a COVID booster) is necessary. Being contaminated with each respiratory illnesses on the similar time may be “catastrophic to your immune system,” Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a professor of household drugs on the College of Central Florida, informed CNN.

Learn on for every little thing it is advisable know in regards to the flu and COVID-19 this yr. For extra, here is which flu-shot uncomfortable side effects you might expertise and why epidemiologists recommend taking each a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot.

How efficient is that this yr’s flu vaccine?

Vaccine-makers monitor which flu strains are at the moment circulating and forecast that are probably to grow to be the dominant ones throughout the upcoming flu season. They use that information to supply the yearly flu vaccine, utilizing three or typically 4 of the likeliest strains. 

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine fluctuates significantly from yr to yr — as little as 19% efficacy within the 2014-2015 season to as excessive as 60% in 2010-2011. 

Final yr, when about half of US adults and youngsters obtained a flu shot, the vaccine was 39% efficient in stopping an infection, in accordance with the CDC. Resulting from an efficient vaccine and COVID-19 mitigation measures, the variety of reported flu circumstances throughout the 2020-2021 season was so low it virtually looks as if a typo: solely 2,038 circumstances of flu, in comparison with 38 million circumstances reported within the 2019-2020 season.

Due to the unbelievably delicate flu season final yr, vaccine-makers had much less data to make use of to develop this yr’s vaccine. They created a vaccine containing 4 doubtless variants, often called a quadrivalent flu vaccine, to extend the probabilities of nailing the dominant pressure this yr. 

“There was sufficient information to make an excellent educated guess,” L.J. Tan, chief technique officer for the Immunization Motion Coalition, mentioned in October. Again then, Tan mentioned specialists have been assured “we obtained it proper.” 

However more moderen analysis suggests they have been off the mark, as a mutated type of the Influenza A H3N2 variant, referred to as 2a2, has grow to be the dominant pressure. 

Based on the CDC, the overwhelming majority of flu strains detected this season thus far are the 2a2 variant of Influenza A, largely occurring in youngsters and younger adults ages 5 to 24 years previous. In November, the Michigan Division of Well being and Human Providers reported a speedy improve within the mutated H3N2 pressure on the College of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with 745 laboratory-confirmed circumstances between Oct. 6 and Nov 19.

If it is a dangerous match, why ought to I trouble with a flu shot?

Though the vaccine seems much less properly matched in opposition to this yr’s flu, medical specialists nonetheless strongly advocate the flu vaccine for anybody 6 months or older. Quite a few research have demonstrated that even a poorly matched vaccine can significantly cut back the severity of the flu. Based on the CDC, getting vaccinated for flu can cut back the chance of getting to go to the physician 40 to 60%

“Research have clearly proven that seasonal influenza vaccines constantly forestall hospitalizations and deaths even in years the place there are massive antigenic mismatches,” the authors wrote in a preprint report.

A research of pediatric influenza circumstances revealed Jan. 13 in Medical Infectious Ailments demonstrated that even “mismatched” vaccines present vital profit, lowering the chance of life-threatening sickness by almost 75%.

When ought to I get a flu shot?

The brief reply is: Now. Within the Northern Hemisphere, flu season normally runs from October to Might. However the influenza virus is much less involved with the calendar and extra with spreading as broadly as attainable. The timing this yr might be much less predictable, specialists warn, given final yr’s delicate flu season and our altering behaviors across the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Do not attempt to time your flu shot for when the flu will hit. To be prepared, specialists advocate, get your shot as quickly as you may.

“We now have a traditional time once we anticipate the flu,” mentioned Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor within the Well being Division of Infectious Ailments on the College of California, San Francisco. “However this yr, it might be atypical or drag on longer, so that is what individuals must be ready for.”

An identical shift within the timing of a seasonal virus an infection occurred this summer time, when the US and Japan noticed a spike in respiratory syncytial virus infections in schoolchildren, Chin-Hong mentioned. That is as a result of college students have been being educated remotely the winter earlier than — when RSV infections usually happen — and did not get uncovered to the virus and construct up immunity. That allowed the virus to unfold in the summertime, as a substitute.

Do I want an appointment for a flu shot?

When you’re used to strolling as much as your native pharmacy, hospital or physician’s workplace to get a flu shot each time it is most handy, you might discover this yr that you must schedule an appointment, as suppliers battle to deal with COVID sufferers, preserve social distancing protocols and meet the demand for COVID testing and vaccinations.

Walgreens’ chief medical officer, Kevin Ban, recommends scheduling COVID-19 and flu vaccinations on-line. 

“We’re doing as a lot as attainable to make it simple for individuals to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated,” Ban mentioned, including that you may additionally name Walgreens’ toll-free quantity to make an appointment.  

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A flu vaccine may help forestall the worst signs of the illness.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Is it secure to get COVID and flu pictures on the similar time?

The CDC has confirmed it is secure to get a flu shot and COVID vaccination in the identical sitting. (Vaccine-maker Moderna is definitely engaged on a mixture COVID-19/flu vaccine, however that combo will not be accessible for a while.)

And don’t fret about extra severe uncomfortable side effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether or not the shot makes use of three elements or 4, the standard uncomfortable side effects must be the identical, Chin-Hong, the UCSF physician, mentioned. These embrace redness or swelling on the injection website, muscle ache, delicate fever, headache and nausea, all of which ought to clear up after a couple of days.

Need extra? We have debunked 9 myths in regards to the flu shot and clarify learn how to inform in case you have the flu, COVID or a standard chilly.

The data contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and isn’t supposed as well being or medical recommendation. At all times seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier relating to any questions you could have a couple of medical situation or well being aims.

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