Getting the flu jab is even more important during the coronavirus pandemic

Getting the flu jab is even more important during the coronavirus pandemic

Vaccinating yourself against the Flu won’t protect you from contracting coronavirus (COVID-19), but it will free up hospital resources and give you peace of mind by protecting you against another deadly virus.

Coronavirus and Seasonal Flu: How do they compare?

Since coronavirus made it’s way to Europe and the US, there have been a lot of comparisons drawn between COVID-19 and seasonal influenza (flu). This has given people a false impression of the severity of the threat of coronavirus, for which we have no immunity and there is no vaccine.

So here is a list of the all-important differences between Coronavirus and Seasonal flu:

Differences

  • COVID-19 is almost twice as contagious as seasonal flu. Seasonal flu has an R0 of 1.3. That means that every person that contracts the flu will pass it on to 1.3 people (on average) which is still considered very contagious. By comparison, COVID-19 has an estimated R0 of between 2.2 to 2.5. It is extremely contagious, which is why we’re seeing such a rapid incline of cases here and around the world.
  • The death rate for COVID-19 is also much higher. In a media briefing on March 3, the Director-General of the WHO said the following “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”
  • Unfortunately, there still isn’t a vaccine available for COVID-19, but there is a vaccine for seasonal flu. Getting a flu jab can halve your risk of contracting seasonal flu.

Similarities

  • They share some symptoms. If you develop a cough and have a fever and/or body aches, it could be either coronavirus or the flu. Therefore, it can be difficult for people to know what condition they have.
  • The biggest similarity between COVID-19 and seasonal flu is that in serious cases they both affect the lungs. As a result, the list of people most at risk of developing serious complications is very similar. Here is a list of people who are considered at high risk of contracting both seasonal flu and COVID-19:

New Scientist staff, “Why the coronavirus is different from flu and warrants major action” New Scientist Magazine issue 3273. March 14, 2020.

Retrieved from:

Why the coronavirus is different from flu and warrants major action

March.2020.

Coburn BJ, Wagner BG, Blower S. Modeling influenza epidemics and pandemics: insights into the future of swine flu (H1N1). BMC Med. 2009;7:30. Published 2009 Jun 22. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-7-30

World Health Organization (WHO) “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”

Retrieved from:

WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

March.2020.

Adhanom, T, “WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 March 2020” World Health Organization Website

Retrieved from:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 March 2020

March.2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work?”

Retrieved from:

Vaccine Effectiveness

March.2020.

Adults over 65People with lung disease (for example, asthma)People with heart diseasePeople with diabetesPeople with compromised immune systems (such as people with HIV)

  • In severe cases, they can both lead to pneumonia.

These similarities mean that the people hospitalized for seasonal flu are in need of the same equipment and resources (such as breathing apparatus) as people hospitalized for seasonal flu.

That is why health organizations from around the world are urging people to vaccinate against the flu.

Reasons to get the flu jab now

By getting a flu jab and protecting yourself against the flu, you are also helping medical teams to combat COVID-19 by relieving pressures on hospitals.

In an interview with LiveScience, professor and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health, Dr. Albert Ko, said that vaccinating more people against the flu would "make us much more efficient in detecting coronavirus," cases. Differentiating COVID-19 cases from the seasonal flu is like picking a "needle out of a haystack," by reducing flu cases, we can "decrease the haystack."

The New York Times has reported that New York is now testing 7500 per day, putting an immense strain on our medical facilities.

Vaccinating against the flu will also help you personally. While it’s never a good time to contract the flu, it’s particularly scary to get it in the midst of a pandemic. The symptoms are so similar that, should you require hospitalization, you will be treated as though you have COVID-19 until you have undergone tests. Even once you test negative may not be permitted to have visitors. It could also cause a lot of stress for you and your family.

Whatever steps you can take to prevent getting ill at this time are strongly advised, this includes getting the flu jab. The CDC advises that everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu jab once a year, but it’s particularly important if you are considered at high risk of developing complications.

You can read more about the flu jab, here, or book an appointment with your Parkchestermedical primary care physician to get a vaccination against the seasonal flu.

WEB MD Staff, “What Are Flu Complications?”

Retrieved from:

What Are Flu Complications?

March.2020.

CDC “People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19”

Retrieved from:

People Who Are at Higher Risk for Severe Illness

March.2020.

Jewell, T. “Everything You Should Know About the 2019 Coronavirus and COVID-19: What are the possible complications from COVID-19?” Healthline March, 2020.

Retrieved from:

How are coronaviruses diagnosed?

March.2020.

Saplakoglu, Y. “A flu shot won't prevent coronavirus, but it could help our response to the outbreak” Live Science

Retrieved from:

A flu shot won't prevent coronavirus, but it could help our response to the outbreak

March.2020.

New York Presbyterian “GENERAL VISITATION GUIDELINES” March 18, 2020.

Retrieved from:

GENERAL VISITATION GUIDELINES

March.2020.

CDC. “Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When” (2019)

Retrieved from:

Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When

March.2020.