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How Seniors Can Manage the 2021 Flu Season

Tips for Seniors to Combat the 2021 Flu Season Amid COVID-19

Seasonal influenza (“flu”) is a common illness we fight every year, and seniors are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from it. Now, with the addition of COVID-19 and highly transmissible variants like Delta, the risk of serious illness is even greater. The symptoms you experience from both viruses can be similar, so it’s important to be informed and take precautions. Getting your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine will help manage some of the risk so that you can stay healthy this season.

At Pegasus Senior Living, we understand how challenging it can be to navigate constant changes in health information. Although knowing what to do can be overwhelming, we’re here to help.

How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and the flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.”

COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than the flu and cause more serious illnesses. It can also take longer for symptoms to show up. See the chart below on similar signs and symptoms. Read more on comparing COVID-19 and the flu.

SymptomFlu COVID-19
*Fever or feeling feverish/having chills✔✔
Cough✔✔
Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing✔✔
Fatigue (tiredness)✔✔
Sore throat✔✔
Runny or stuffy nose✔✔
Muscle pain or body aches✔✔
Headache✔✔
Vomiting and diarrhea✔✔
Change in or loss of taste or smell✔✔ more frequent with COVID-19

*Not everyone will experience a fever

 

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Can I get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes. It’s possible to have the flu or other respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 at the same time. Experts are studying how often this occurs. Because many symptoms are similar, it can be difficult to tell the difference. If you’re having symptoms, it’s best to get tested for COVID-19 to know for sure.

Will the flu shot help fight the coronavirus?

No. The flu shot won’t impact the possibility of getting the coronavirus, but it will protect you from having the flu, which can be very serious. The best defense against both viruses is vaccination.

Pegasus Senior Living | Mug of tea next to a card that reads flu season
Elena – stock.adobe.com

How can I protect myself?

Take precautionary measures to limit transmission. Currently, vaccines are the best protection we have against these viruses. For residents in senior living communities, reaching out to a team member is a great place to start. The team at Pegasus Senior Living will assist you in finding a convenient location to receive the flu or COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, some of our communities provide on-site COVID-19 vaccinations through our partnership with CVS Pharmacy.

Due to the rise of the Delta variant, the CDC is also recommending that all people (vaccinated and unvaccinated) wear masks in public indoor places in areas with substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus. They also advise anyone at increased risk to wear a mask indoors, regardless of the level of community transmission. For those who are not fully vaccinated, the CDC continues to recommend mask-wearing and other preventive measures in some outdoor settings and most indoor settings.

Booster shots are also recommended eight months after receiving your full vaccination of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Seniors will be among the first available to receive booster shots.

  1. Make a plan to get your vaccines or booster shot.
  2. Call ahead to your local pharmacy to check availability.
  3. Continue wearing a mask and practice social distancing.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Stay healthy and safe!

Are there enough flu shots to go around?

Yes. The CDC states, “Vaccine manufacturers reported distributing 193.8 million doses of flu vaccine in the United States as of February 26, 2021. This was more flu vaccine than had ever previously been distributed in the United States.” Read more about the CDC’s weekly updates on total flu vaccine doses distributed throughout the 2020-2021 flu season.

Do I need to get a flu vaccine earlier during the flu season (i.e., July/August)?

No. The CDC states, “There was no change in the recommendation on the timing of vaccination. Getting vaccinated in July or August is too early, especially for older people, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu later in the flu season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated.”

As we enter flu season, protecting yourself and others is crucial. By taking precautions like wearing masks and getting vaccinated, seniors lower their risks of getting sick; instead, they can stay healthy and happy all season long.

 

At Pegasus Senior Living we are committed to the health and wellbeing of our residents.

Find out more about how we care for seniors by contacting us or searching for your closest Pegasus community.

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