Health experts at the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health agree that the flu vaccine is more important than ever this year and that it should even be considered essential.
This year, it is especially important to get a flu vaccine for 2 reasons:
- If we prevent illness and hospitalizations caused by the flu, we can save healthcare resources for COVID-19 responses in our community
- Symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are very similar. If you get vaccinated against the flu, that will help our entire community determine which illnesses are the flu, and which are COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses.
COVID-19 and the flu have many similar signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms of BOTH COVID-19 and the flu include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children
Healthcare providers are asking that community members do not try to decide on their own if they have a cold or the flu, but to call a healthcare provider as soon as they feel ill or have any of the symptoms listed above. If you have symptoms, your provider will have guidance for you on what to do and whether you should be tested for COVID-19 or the flu.
Many area clinics are ready for you to come in and get a flu vaccine now!
Check with your healthcare provider or call one on our list to ask about where to get a vaccine.
Washington state provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for kids from birth through age 18.
Keep in mind that the flu, like COVID-19, is highly contagious. Getting a flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu, but does not prevent other respiratory infections.
As the weather cools and we start to spend more time indoors, it is extra important to get a flu vaccination AND keep up with COVID-19 safety protocols. Wear a facial covering (and wash it regularly!), wash your hands and high-touch surfaces often, and keep 6 feet of distance from others in public spaces.
- Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, updated September 14, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.html
- State Health Experts: Flu Vaccine Should be Considered “Essential” This Year. The Washington State Department of Health, News Release September 29, 2020. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2394/State-health-experts-Flu-vaccine-should-be-considered-essential-this-year
- Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, updated August 31, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm
- Flu News. The Washington State Department of Health, accessed September 29, 2020. https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Flu