Flu season during a pandemic

Flu season begins in Oct. and peaks between Dec. and Feb., so now is the time to get your flu shot, especially as flu season collides with a global pandemic.

Healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking enough fluids and eating nutritious foods are important factors in keeping your immune system healthy during flu season. The most beneficial way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.

Publix, CVS, Walgreens, MinuteClinic, Urgent Care and your personal doctor’s office offer flu vaccinations. Most insurance companies cover the cost of the flu shot, and Publix is offering customers a $10 Publix gift card to get the vaccine at one of their pharmacies.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness like COVID-19 and is highly contagious in the fall season. Although the flu and the coronavirus are similar, they are caused by different viruses.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, cough, chills, fatigue, runny nose, body aches and sore throat. These symptoms are typically apparent right away. 

Unlike the flu, COVID-19 takes longer to show symptoms. Not many studies have been done to see how similar COVID-19 and the flu are, but they are both viruses that settle in the respiratory system.

“The most telltale sign of the flu is definitely a fever, so be sure to go to a doctor and avoid contact with people if that’s the case. Other very common symptoms of the flu are sore throat, runny nose, headaches, body aches, and tiredness,” Peyton Ellis, Jupiter High medical teacher, said.

The flu affects all ages, and people with certain health issues such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease could be at risk of complications from the virus.

“The flu can be a very serious sickness in all age groups, and it’s hard to predict how badly you may be affected. So, getting the vaccine can reduce the chances of getting the flu and suffering from the risky complications that come with getting it… it’s cheap and quick,” Ellis said. The only age group that should really avoid getting the flu shot is infants under the age of six months due to their immune systems not being fully developed.”

The flu vaccine is an effective way to keep yourself and others safe, but it has not been proven the vaccine works for every individual, especially since the flu has different strains. Studies have shown the vaccination reduces the risk of influenza by 40 to 60 percent among the general population. 

“It’s hard to predict if the flu shot completely prevents a person from getting the flu each year, as there are many strains, but overall the flu has significantly reduced the number of cases of the flu. The number of hospitalizations due to the virus has dropped by over 50 percent and tens-of-thousands of lives have been saved,” Ellis said. 

It’s important for students to consider getting vaccinated to prevent spreading the flu to others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have only gotten the vaccination three times, but I do believe it is very important to get the vaccination before the flu season for the sake of others,” Juliet Baltrun, a Jupiter High freshman, said. “The virus affects people every year so getting vaccinated just seems like the smartest thing to do.”