With shorter days and sweater weather right around the corner, Houstonians should be wary of COVID-19 as well as the looming flu season一a double threat this winter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict this year's flu season will be more severe than usual, due to lax public health measures and lack of recent exposure to circulating flu viruses. Health experts say that the antibodies from last year’s flu shot may not protect you against this year's flu.
Each year, 12,000 to 61,000 Americans die from the flu, making it one of the top ten leading causes of death. However, with COVID-19 still a threat, it can be confusing to know the differences between the two. Board member of the Texas Nurses Association Dr. Edtrina Moss, says that the best way to find out is by going to get tested for both.
“The flu and COVID-19 are both illnesses that affect your lungs and ability to breathe,” Dr. Edtrina tells Houstonia. “They can have very similar symptoms, even though they are caused by different viruses. A test is needed to determine whether you have flu or COVID-19 – in fact, it is possible to be infected by both seasonal flu and COVID-19 at the same time.”
According to a release, it is imperative that those who are at a higher risk for flu-related complications protect themselves. By taking all necessary precautions against both viruses, Dr. Edtrina says that Houstonians will be lowering their risks of cardiovascular events and pneumonia. Houstonians can protect themselves by staying vigilant, washing their hands regularly, scheduling a flu vaccine, along with a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot.
“It’s so important that every eligible American do their part to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu and COVID-19,” says Dr. Edtrina. “According to the CDC, you can plan to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster at the same time as the flu shot.”
Houston area pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens have started administering flu vaccines this season. Those in the Houston area who are still in need of a COVID-19 vaccine can register through Harris County Public Health.
To learn more ways to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus, visit the CDC’s page on the flu.