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Is a 'twindemic' on the horizon? Experts warn of brutal flu season as COVID-19 still spreads. Here are 8 things to know about getting your flu shot

Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

7. There’s been a spotlight on vaccines — and vaccine hesitancy — during the pandemic, but experts aren’t sure how this might impact flu shot uptake this season.

“I can only hope it will encourage more people to get vaccinated against influenza,” Korpics said. “Influenza, like COVID, is a preventable illness due to our ability to vaccinate. As a physician, it is incredibly sad to see patients who come to the hospital and die from influenza or COVID, which could have been prevented by the vaccine.”

She noted that even patients who get the flu or COVID-19 after vaccination generally have a much more mild illness and are still protected from hospitalization, severe illness and death.

Michelson said that an April study in the journal JMIR Public Health and Surveillance found that among a sample of people in the United Kingdom “COVID-19 has increased acceptance of influenza vaccination in previously eligible but unvaccinated people and has motivated substantial uptake in newly eligible people.”

But she added the caveat that the United Kingdom has a different population and culture than the United States, so it’s hard to forecast how many people will get the flu shot here this season.

 

“I really think this is hard to predict,” she said. “I hope that people will realize that COVID vaccines are literally saving millions of lives every day and that flu vaccines can do the same.”

8. While it’s hard to tell the flu and COVID-19 apart, there are some differences in symptoms.

A stuffy nose is common with the flu but rare with COVID-19; loss of taste or smell is often associated with COVID-19 but unlikely with the flu, health experts say. But body aches, fevers, headaches and fatigue are symptoms of both viruses. Health officials advise getting tested for COVID-19 whenever symptomatic.

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