Experts answer if the flu shot is important with the onset of winter and rising Covid-19 cases:
* Dr Vikas Bhutani, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mohali:
It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes Covid-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Even with a mild flu season, healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with Covid-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever.
While getting the flu vaccine will not protect against Covid-19, there are many important benefits, such as flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation and death.
Moreover, getting a flu vaccine can also save our healthcare resources for the care of patients with Covid-19. There’s no reason for us to be filling our ICUs with people with influenza/flu who didn’t get vaccinated.
For both the flu and Covid-19, the elderly and those with underlying conditions are more susceptible, but the flu also hits children particularly hard and spreads readily in schools and colleges.
The more people in all age groups who get a flu vaccine, the more protected these vulnerable populations will be. Ideally, the flu vaccine should be administered annually due to change in the circulating strains of viruses. Everyone six months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine by the end of October.
* Dr Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services, Chandigarh:
The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 may be very similar, with some minor differences, but my first and important suggestion is that if you have any symptoms, cold, cough, runny nose, headache, fever…please don’t assume it is a common flu, for you are symptomatic for something and you need to rule that out first. You must isolate and get yourself tested. The doctor is the best person to detect and diagnose. With winter approaching and with us facing COVID, it is important that the elderly and those with co-morbidities get a flu shot.
* Dr Sandeep S Chhatwal, Internal Medicine Specialist:
Many this year are opting for the flu vaccine, which is given orally and annually. It gives one protection against influenza and is recommended for segments of people with co-morbidities. It offers no protection against COVID.x
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