Medical professionals often joke that every flu season is a brand new flu season, but that saying has never been more true than in 2020. While we are still many months away from a COVID-19 vaccine, the annual flu vaccine is expected to start arriving within the month and it will be very important to get as many people in the community vaccinated as possible.
To review, the flu is caused by an ever-mutating virus and causes illness that can vary from miserable to fatal. Children under 2 years old, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and kidney disease are especially vulnerable to the flu and its complications. Those complications include pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, and death. Because children are little snot factories when they’re sick, they are known to be major spreaders of the flu. As opposed to the current thinking on COVID-19 infections, children can and do contract the flu at high rates and can definitely be susceptible to severe illness.
The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are very similar – fever, cough, fatigue, headache, body aches, etc. While we do have fairly good in office testing for the flu and hope to have it soon for COVID-19, there is a lot of concern about patients contracting flu like symptoms and needing to access medical care for testing and treatment putting everyone at increased risk for a COVID-19 exposure. If we cannot determine with a high degree of reliability whether a patient has the flu vs. COVID-19 vs. another illness, patients and their contacts may be required to isolate for a prolonged time period. We would much prefer to avoid this if possible!
Almost all healthy people 6 months and older are eligible for flu vaccine with very few exceptions. Please contact Cobb Pediatrics if you have questions about the vaccine or who can get it. Keep an eye on our website and watch for emails and Facebook posts – we will be announcing it to the rafters once we are ready to start administering flu vaccine. It’s going to be a bumpy winter as it is – we don’t need the flu trying to join the party!