Flu shot

A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, D.C Jan. 31, 2020. (Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

An influenza epidemic alongside the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – it's the "twindemic" that health officials are trying to avoid. Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic vaccine expert, explains why getting a flu vaccination is so important.

Getting your annual flu vaccination is especially important this season.

"Where we have COVID-19 spreading, we will very likely have influenza spreading," says Dr. Poland.The flu vaccine won't protect against COVID-19, but it can help reduce the chances of getting the flu."The symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza overlap almost exactly in their initial manifestations with the exception of the loss of smell, loss of taste," says Dr. Poland. "That would be very unusual with influenza."

Getting a flu vaccination helps rule out influenza if you develop respiratory issues and helps reduce stress on the health care system.

"Every American age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine," says Dr. Poland. "An opportunity we have in the context of this 'twindemic' is not only to get our flu vaccines, but to remember these nonpharmaceutical interventions – the mask-wearing, physical distancing. While they prevent COVID-19, they also decrease the risk of influenza."

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Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

(Mayo Clinic News Network is your source for health news, advances in research and wellness tips.)

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(c)2020 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

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