ROCHESTER, Minn. - Flu season is right around the corner and it's time to start thinking about getting your annual shot. Mayo Clinic urges people to get the vaccine by the end of October, although getting it at any point during the flu season is better than not getting it at all.
KIMT News 3 spoke with infectious disease expert Dr. Priya Sampathkumar. She explains that last year's Influenza season was relatively mild because people were diligent in COVID-safe behaviors such as masking and avoiding crowds last fall and winter. This in turn protected those people from both COVID-19 and the flu.
Heading into this Influenza season, restrictions and requirements are not as tight. This makes protecting yourself against the flu even more important.
Dr. Sampathkumar says if you have any respiratory infection symptoms, you should get tested for both COVID-19 and Influenza. With COVID, you can lose your taste and smell without having a stuffed nose. That is the only symptom that may distinguish COVID from the flu. "Really, you cannot tell one respiratory virus from another without a test so testing is very important to distinguish the two. Both viruses are spread in a similar manner, from being in close contact with people who have the virus in their upper airways so masking and cleaning your hands frequently are both measures that will protect you from both viruses," she explains.
If someone in your household gets Influenza, you should handle it in the same way as if someone got COVID. That person should be quarantined and others should cover their noses and mouths when interacting with that person. The infected person should isolate until 24 hours after their fever resolves.
Vaccinating your kids against the flu, especially those under 12 who cannot get a COVID vaccine, is critical this year. Kids six months and older can get the Influenza vaccine. If pregnant women get the flu shot, their babies will have Influenza antibodies for up to six months after birth.
It is possible to get Influenza multiple times because there are four different strains. Even if you've had Influenza once this year, it is still valuable to get vaccinated. You are protected two weeks after receiving the shot.
You cannot get Influenza from the vaccine, although you may feel side effects.