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Influenza (Flu) Season 2020-2021 and COVID-19: Patient Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on Jul 21, 2020 by Miranda Schroeder

Flu Season 2020-21 and CV19 Patient FAQs (2)

While the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has not yet voted on the flu vaccine recommendations for 2020-2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a long list of frequently asked questions pertaining to the upcoming influenza (flu) season in relation to COVID-19.  

There is laser focus on increasing flu vaccination rates this year as the world continues to battle COVID-19. The questions below have been identified and answered by the CDC as top questions from the public. 

Please note that information is derived from the CDC website and subject to change without notice. 

Will there be flu along with COVID-19 in the fall and winter? 

While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. 

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

Yes. It is possible to have flu (as well as other respiratory illnesses) and COVID-19 at the same time. Experts are still studying how common this can be (CDC). 

Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19 

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources. 

Is COVID-19 more dangerous than flu? 

Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness, including illness resulting in hospitalization or death. While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, currently, it does seem as if COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza; however, it is too early to draw any conclusions from the current data. This may change as we learn more about the number of people who are infected who have mild illnesses. 

Is there guidance for safely administering vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

CDC has released Interim Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This guidance is intended to help immunization providers in a variety of clinical and alternative settings with the safe administration of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance will be continually reassessed and updated based on the evolving epidemiology of COVID-19 in the United States. Healthcare providers who give vaccines should also consult guidance from state, local, tribal, and territorial health officials. 

Why is it important for influenza (flu) vaccines to be given during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including immunizationservices. Ensuring that people continue or start getting routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting people and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, including flu. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which further strain the healthcare system. 

For the upcoming flu season, flu vaccination will be very important to reduce flu because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and thus lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A flu vaccine may also provide several individual health benefits, including keeping you from getting sick with flu, reducing the severity of your illness if you do get flu and reducing your risk of a flu-associated hospitalization. 

Who should get their flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is important to protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe illness, the healthcare system, and other critical infrastructure. Thus, healthcare providers should use every opportunity during thee influenza vaccination season to administer influenza vaccines to all eligible persons, including; 

  • Essential workers: Including healthcare personnel (including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff) and other critical infrastructure workforce 
  • Persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: Including adults aged 65 years and older, residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and persons of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions. Severe illness from COVID-19 has been observed to disproportionately affect members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups. 
  • Persons at increased risk for serious influenza complications: Including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 years and older, and other persons with certain underlying medical conditions 
Should a flu vaccine be given to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19? 

No. Vaccination should be deferred (postponed) for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, until they have met the criteria to discontinue their isolation. While mild illness is not a contraindication to flu vaccination, vaccination visits for these people should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccination, patients should be instructed to notify the provider’s office or clinic in advance if they currently have or develop any symptoms of COVID-19. 

Additionally, a prior infection with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or flu does not protect someone from future flu infections. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. 

Flu vaccines are more important than ever. The CDC is continuously updating flu season 2020-2021 information, along with these patient FAQs as new information becomes available. 

Ensuring Flu Vaccine Safety and Efficacy 

Helmer Scientific is proud to support those on the frontline with pharmaceutical-grade vaccine storage as they battle the COVID-19 and the upcoming influenza season. Storing vaccines in reliable, high-quality refrigerators and freezers helps ensure potency and effectiveness of vaccinations which is essential during these high-risk times. 

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Learn more about how our vaccine storage equipment can help you comply with CDC guidelines by downloading the informational brochure at the link below. 

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Miranda Schroeder

Written by Miranda Schroeder

Helmer designs, manufactures, and sells reliable medical-grade refrigeration. Miranda specializes in the pharmacy segment in regards to proper cold storage for refrigerated and frozen medications and vaccines.

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