The Flu and Common Cold

don't sleep on the more familiar illnesses during COVID

Have you found yourself feeling sick despite a rigid regiment of quarantine and social distancing and mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing?  Maybe you’ve even gotten negative test results despite symptoms of sickness? Well, as it describes in this article from Scientific American, our COVID precautions aren’t necessarily going to prevent strep throat, stomach bugs or the common cold from spreading.  As it talks about in the article:
“Some virologists believe that the sheer number of viruses that cause the common cold can make it exceedingly difficult to avoid catching one: there are around 200 different pathogens. These include four coronaviruses (the group that includes SARS-CoV-2); four parainfluenza viruses (which, despite their name, bear no relation to influenza viruses); respiratory syncytial virus; and 160 different rhinoviruses. Viral censuses have revealed that dozens of these rhinoviruses circulate in any one place at a given time. “You might be immune to the flu, but you are not going to be immune to all those rhinoviruses,” says James Gern, a rhinovirus researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “That’s one unique feature of rhinoviruses—you are always going to be susceptible to some.”

Get those Flu Shots!

And there is plenty of reason to be careful about any of the other illnesses, as well as the flu itself.  Public Health experts are requesting that we get our flu shots, with even greater urgency than usual.  Here is a note from Seattle-King County Public Health Director Patty Hayes:
This week I got my annual flu shot. Getting it was a reminder that I wanted to share with you all, our community ambassadors, why flu shots are more important than ever this year. No one has time for flu – especially this year. Flu is dangerous and can be deadly, and the very last thing we need are flu outbreaks while we are also dealing with COVID-19.    Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and headache, it may be hard to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Preventing flu with a flu shot means there’s less chance of worrying – is it flu or is it COVID?     We don’t want to overwhelm our COVID-19 testing sites with people who have flu, not COVID, and we certainly don’t want to add extra burden to hospitals having to care for folks with the flu.    So please, this week, remind everyone you know to get a flu shot! Here are some key points to make with your networks: 
  • October is a great month to do get your flu shot! 
  • It’s available in every doctor’s office as well as in most pharmacies; visit our sitio web for a nearby location. 
  • Most insurance pays for influenza vaccine. 
  • Flu shots are quick and easy and recommended for almost everyone over the age of 6 months.
  • Flu vaccine cannot cause flu – it’s scientifically impossible. 
  • Flu shots are not 100% effective, but research shows if someone who is vaccinated does get the flu, they will have a milder case and be much less likely to be hospitalized. 
There’s a lot more flu information on our sitio web along with an interview with our health officer about flu vaccine on our blog.  Thank you for everything you’re doing to promote health in our community! Patty Hayes
More information is available at Seattle-King County Public Health.

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