As healthcare providers, every year we prepare for the arrival of “flu season” in the fall and winter. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are especially encouraging our patients and the public to be sure to plan for getting an influenza vaccine.
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, but both are expected to spread in the coming months according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is recommending annual influenza vaccinations for everyone six months and older.
Avoiding the flu during the COVID-19 pandemic is vital for our community. Getting vaccine this year will not only reduce your risk of getting sick, but will help us to conserve potentially scarce healthcare resources.
To help inform our patients and the public, we have created the following Frequently Asked Questions based on information from the CDC:
Q: What will the influenza vaccine protect me from?
Each year the vaccine is reviewed and updated to provide protection against the three or four flu viruses that are expected to be most common. At Mosaic, we will be using a high-quality, four-strain coverage vaccine. For our patients 65 years of age and over, we have the CDC-recommended adjuvant vaccine, formulated to provide better immunity against the virus in older adults.
Q: When should I get my flu vaccine?
The CDC recommends that September and October are good months to get vaccinated. As long as the flu season is still going strong, vaccinations will continue, even past January. At Mosaic, the influenza vaccine will be available to patients starting Sept. 21. Patients may call Mosaic at 541-383-3005 to schedule their flu shot beginning Sept. 7.
Q: Who should get a flu vaccine?
The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. It is especially important for people at high risk for complications (age 65 or older, pregnant women, young children, people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses) to get a flu vaccination this year, as they seem to also be at a higher risk from COVID-19.
Q: How will vaccines be given in a pandemic?
There may be changes in how vaccines are administered due to the pandemic. Check with your healthcare provider for more information. At Mosaic we have established outdoor Drive-Up Care locations in Bend, Redmond and Prineville to be able to provide safe, convenient vaccinations and other services for our patients.
Q:Will there be a shortage of flu vaccine?
A record number of influenza vaccine doses are being produced this year and manufacturers are not reporting any significant delays.
Q: Will the flu vaccine protect me from COVID-19?
The influenza vaccine will not protect you from the coronavirus (SARS-C0V-2). Influenza and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, although they are both contagious respiratory illnesses.
Q: Can I have both flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
It is possible to have influenza and other respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, at the same time. And both illnesses can have similar symptoms, making it hard to tell the difference without testing.
Q: Which is more dangerous, flu or COVID-19?
Both illnesses can be serious and both can result in hospitalization or death. According to the CDC, at this time it does appear that COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal flu. However, there is much that is not known about this new coronavirus.
Albert Noyes, PharmD, CDCES, BC-ADM is the Director of Pharmacy Services at Mosaic Medical. In addition to his pharmacy credentials he is also a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and board certified in Advanced Diabetes Management. He is committed to helping all patients understand their conditions, treatment options and to feel empowered to make informed decisions about their health. Outside of work Albert enjoys spending time with his wife and five children, farming, gardening and fishing. Learn more at mosaicmedical.org and mosaicmedicalpediatrics.org.