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What you need to know about COVID-19 and the seasonal flu

What you need to know about COVID-19 and the seasonal flu

Flu season is something we anticipate each year but, of course, this year is a bit different. As we prepare our families for the 2020 flu season, we’re also still fighting COVID-19. While 2020 has been a year of firsts, this will likely be the first time that many of us have feared not only the flu, but a global pandemic.

With many schools back in session for in-person learning, and local communities continuing reopen gradually, we find ourselves asking, “How can we prepare for flu season while still battling a pandemic? The answer may seem too simple. The important infection prevention measures put in place to protect against COVID-19 will also help protect against seasonal flu., but the most important defense is, as always, is getting the annual flu vaccine.

Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics urge anyone who is six months of age and older to get flu the shot, as it is one of the most effective ways to protect against the influenza virus. Parents and kids alike can receive the flu shot from a primary healthcare provider, pharmacy, or even many urgent cares.

While some parents may be hesitant to visit the doctor’s office during a pandemic, it is important to know that clinics and hospitals have implemented safety precautions that prevent the spread of infection, including masking, social distancing, and frequent disinfection measures. While it may feel like venturing out to get your family’s flu shots may feel like a risk, it could be more of a risk not to get the vaccine at all.

The largest concern that for many this season is the likelihood that COVID-19 and the influenza viruses will overlap. Because both viruses have similar symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, and muscle pains or body aches) it will be a challenging season to navigate. Flu vaccinations will help decrease the cases of influenza during this overlapping winter season, which is even more of a reason to be sure you and your family are protected.

You might be wondering if getting a flu vaccine could lend some protection against COVID-19. The answer is no, but the CDC says it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine this fall, as it will help reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and even death. It will also help conserve potentially scarce healthcare resources due to the coronavirus and hospitals’ capacities to care for the critically ill. Frequent handwashing and social distancing are prevention practices that we already use to protect against COVID-19 can also help us prevent the flu. Addressing the importance of the 2020 fall flu season, the CDC has already begun to make vaccinations more available by purchasing an additional 2 million doses of pediatric flu vaccine and 9.3 million doses of adult flu vaccine.

The mission of Children’s Hospital New Orleans is to care for the kids of Louisiana and their families, and part of that is protecting them against the flu and other infectious diseases. No matter what this flu season holds in store for us, the expert pediatric providers at Children’s Hospital remain dedicated to providing expert care for kids as we continue to closely follow the guidelines of the CDC and our government leaders.

Children’s Hospital Pediatrics offices and The Greater New Orleans Immunization Networks are offering these vital vaccines for kids in a clean and safe environment. Find a pediatrician’s office near you to schedule a flu shot appointment today!

James Treadway, Jr., MD

Dr. James Treadway, Jr. specializes in pediatrics at Children’s Pediatrics Carousel. After earning his medical degree from Louisiana State University(LSU) School of Medicine in Shreveport, LA, Dr. Treadway completed residency at LSU Health Sciences Center pediatrics department in New Orleans. Dr. Treadway chose to practice pediatrics to continue serving the children and families of New Orleans as a third generation New Orleans pediatrician.