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COVID and the flu: Can you get both at the same time?

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

For the latest 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 instances, influenza instances have rebounded in 2021-22, spawning considerations of a COVID-19 and flu “twindemic.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experiences that 1,804 folks had been hospitalized with influenza for the week ending Jan. 8. That’s nearly as many as who had been contaminated in the whole 2020-2021 flu season.

One distinction this 12 months is that the present flu vaccine appears to be a poor match for the dominant pressure of influenza. “From our lab-based studies it looks like a major mismatch,” Scott Hensley, a microbiologist at the University 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 line with the CDC, with thousands and thousands of Americans catching the flu and tens of hundreds dying from it. 

What’s worse than catching the flu? An co-infection of both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Health care professionals round the world have began reporting instances of sufferers contracting COVID-19 and influenza concurrently, a phenomenon dubbed “flurona” that may carry extra 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, extra instances have popped up in Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina.

“For generally healthy people, the combination could cause illness that keeps them home and in bed for a while, feeling pretty bad,” Dr. Nancy Gin, vp and chief high quality officer for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, informed The Orange County Register. “For people with existing high-risk medical conditions like diabetes or heart or lung disease, the result could be admission to the ICU and potentially death.”

That’s why getting both a flu shot and COVID vaccine (and a COVID booster) is essential. Being contaminated with both respiratory illnesses at the same time may be “catastrophic to your immune system,” Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a professor of household drugs at the University of Central Florida, informed CNN.

Read on for every part you must learn about the flu and COVID-19 this 12 months. For extra, this is which flu-shot negative effects you could expertise and why epidemiologists recommend taking both a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot.

How efficient is that this 12 months’s flu vaccine?

Vaccine-makers monitor which flu strains are at the moment circulating and forecast that are almost definitely to develop into the dominant ones throughout the upcoming flu season. They use that knowledge to supply the yearly flu vaccine, utilizing three or typically 4 of the likeliest strains. 

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine fluctuates significantly from 12 months to 12 months — as little as 19% efficacy in the 2014-2015 season to as excessive as 60% in 2010-2011. 

Last 12 months, when about half of US adults and kids acquired a flu shot, the vaccine was 39% efficient in stopping an infection, in line with the CDC. Due to an efficient vaccine and COVID-19 mitigation measures, the variety of reported flu instances throughout the 2020-2021 season was so low it nearly looks like a typo: solely 2,038 instances of flu, in comparison with 38 million instances reported in the 2019-2020 season.

Because of the unbelievably gentle flu season final 12 months, vaccine-makers had much less data to make use of to develop this 12 months’s vaccine. They created a vaccine containing 4 probably variants, often known as a quadrivalent flu vaccine, to extend the possibilities of nailing the dominant pressure this 12 months. 

“There was enough data to make a good educated guess,” L.J. Tan, chief technique officer for the Immunization Action Coalition, stated in October. Back then, Tan stated specialists had been assured “we got it right.” 

But newer analysis suggests they had been off the mark, as a mutated type of the Influenza A H3N2 variant, known as 2a2, has develop into the dominant pressure. 

According to the CDC, the overwhelming majority of flu strains detected this season to date are the 2a2 variant of Influenza A, largely occurring in kids and younger adults ages 5 to 24 years outdated. In November, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported a fast enhance in the mutated H3N2 pressure at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with 745 laboratory-confirmed instances between Oct. 6 and Nov 19.

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

Although the vaccine seems much less properly matched towards this 12 months’s flu, medical specialists nonetheless strongly advocate the flu vaccine for anybody 6 months or older. Numerous research have demonstrated that even a poorly matched vaccine can significantly scale back the severity of the flu. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated for flu can scale back the danger of getting to go to the physician 40 to 60%

“Studies have clearly shown that seasonal influenza vaccines consistently prevent hospitalizations and deaths even in years where there are large antigenic mismatches,” the authors wrote in a preprint report.

A research of pediatric influenza instances revealed Jan. 13 in Clinical Infectious Diseases demonstrated that even “mismatched” vaccines present important profit, decreasing the danger of life-threatening sickness by practically 75%.

When ought to I get a flu shot?

The brief reply is: Now. In the Northern Hemisphere, flu season often runs from October to May. But the influenza virus is much less involved with the calendar and extra with spreading as extensively as doable. The timing this 12 months could possibly be much less predictable, specialists warn, given final 12 months’s gentle flu season and our altering behaviors round the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Don’t attempt to time your flu shot for when the flu will hit. To be prepared, specialists advocate, get your shot as quickly as you can.

“We have a normal time when we expect the flu,” stated Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor in the Health Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco. “But this year, it could be atypical or drag on longer, so that’s what people need to be prepared for.”

An identical shift in 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 stated. That’s as a result of college students had 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 summer time, as an alternative.

Do I would like an appointment for a flu shot?

If 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 could discover this 12 months that you should schedule an appointment, as suppliers battle to deal with COVID sufferers, keep 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 are doing as much as possible to make it easy for people to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated,” Ban stated, including that you may also 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 protected to get COVID and flu photographs at the same time?

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

And don’t fret about extra severe negative effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether the shot makes use of three elements or 4, the typical negative effects needs to be the same, Chin-Hong, the UCSF physician, stated. Those embrace redness or swelling at the injection web site, muscle ache, gentle fever, headache and nausea, all of which ought to clear up after just a few days.

Want extra? We’ve debunked 9 myths about the flu shot and clarify tips on how to inform if you have the flu, COVID or a standard chilly.

The data contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and just isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. Always seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you could have a few medical situation or well being goals.

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