COVID and the flu: Can you get both at the same time? - CNET

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A co-infection of COVID and the flu tin beryllium hard to observe without testing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For the astir up-to-date quality and accusation astir the coronavirus pandemic, sojourn the WHO and CDC websites.

After a 2020-2021 flu play that saw an unprecedented decline in yearly cases, influenza cases person rebounded successful 2021-22, spawning concerns of a COVID-19 and flu "twindemic." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1,804 radical were hospitalized with influenza for the week ending Jan. 8. That's astir arsenic galore arsenic who were infected in the full 2020-2021 flu season.

One quality this twelvemonth is that the existent flu vaccine seems to beryllium a mediocre lucifer for the ascendant strain of influenza. "From our lab-based studies it looks similar a large mismatch," Scott Hensley, a microbiologist astatine the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN.

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A little effectual flu vaccine, combined with a lifting of lockdowns and disguise mandates, could propulsion 2021-2022 backmost to a much emblematic flu season, according to the CDC, with millions of Americans catching the flu and tens of thousands dying from it. 

What's worse than catching the flu? An co-infection of some flu and COVID-19 astatine the aforesaid time. Health attraction professionals astir the satellite person started reporting cases of patients contracting COVID-19 and influenza simultaneously, a improvement dubbed "flurona" that tin bring further risks to those with underlying wellness issues.

After Israel reported its archetypal lawsuit of flurona connected Jan. 2, an unvaccinated teen successful California was reported connected Jan. 5, per CBS Los Angeles. Since then, further cases person popped up successful Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina.

"For mostly steadfast people, the operation could origin unwellness that keeps them location and successful furniture for a while, feeling beauteous bad," Dr. Nancy Gin, vice president and main prime serviceman for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, told The Orange County Register. "For radical with existing high-risk aesculapian conditions similar diabetes oregon bosom oregon lung disease, the effect could beryllium admittance to the ICU and perchance death."

That's wherefore getting some a flu changeable and COVID vaccine (and a COVID booster) is important. Being infected with some respiratory ailments astatine the aforesaid clip tin beryllium "catastrophic to your immune system," Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a prof of household medicine astatine the University of Central Florida, told CNN.

Read connected for everything you request to cognize astir the flu and COVID-19 this year. For more, here's which flu-shot broadside effects you whitethorn acquisition and wherefore epidemiologists suggest taking both a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot.

How effectual is this year's flu vaccine?

Vaccine-makers show which flu strains are presently circulating and forecast which are astir apt to go the ascendant ones during the upcoming flu season. They usage that information to nutrient the yearly flu vaccine, utilizing 3 oregon sometimes 4 of the likeliest strains. 

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine fluctuates greatly from twelvemonth to twelvemonth -- arsenic debased arsenic 19% efficacy successful the 2014-2015 play to arsenic precocious arsenic 60% successful 2010-2011. 

Last year, erstwhile about half of US adults and children got a flu shot, the vaccine was 39% effectual successful preventing infection, according to the CDC. Due to an effectual vaccine and COVID-19 mitigation measures, the fig of reported flu cases during the 2020-2021 play was truthful debased it astir seems similar a typo: lone 2,038 cases of flu, compared to 38 million cases reported successful the 2019-2020 season.

Because of the unbelievably mild flu play past year, vaccine-makers had little accusation to usage to make this year's vaccine. They created a vaccine containing 4 apt variants, known as a quadrivalent flu vaccine, to summation the chances of nailing the ascendant strain this year. 

"There was capable information to marque a bully educated guess," L.J. Tan, main strategy serviceman for the Immunization Action Coalition, said successful October. Back then, Tan said experts were assured "we got it right." 

But much caller probe suggests they were disconnected the mark, arsenic a mutated signifier of the Influenza A H3N2 variant, called 2a2, has go the ascendant strain. 

According to the CDC, the immense bulk of flu strains detected this play truthful acold are the 2a2 variant of Influenza A, mostly occurring successful children and young adults ages 5 to 24 years old. In November, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported a accelerated increase successful the mutated H3N2 strain astatine the University of Michigan astatine Ann Arbor, with 745 laboratory-confirmed cases betwixt Oct. 6 and Nov 19.

If it's a atrocious match, wherefore should I fuss with a flu shot?

Although the vaccine appears little good matched against this year's flu, aesculapian experts inactive powerfully urge the flu vaccine for anyone 6 months oregon older. Numerous studies person demonstrated that adjacent a poorly matched vaccine tin greatly trim the severity of the flu. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated for flu tin trim the hazard of having to spell to the doctor 40 to 60%

"Studies person intelligibly shown that seasonal influenza vaccines consistently forestall hospitalizations and deaths adjacent successful years wherever determination are ample antigenic mismatches," the authors wrote successful a preprint report.

A survey of pediatric influenza cases published Jan. 13 successful Clinical Infectious Diseases demonstrated that adjacent "mismatched" vaccines supply important benefit, reducing the hazard of life-threatening unwellness by astir 75%.

When should I get a flu shot?

The abbreviated reply is: Now. In the Northern Hemisphere, flu play usually runs from October to May. But the influenza microorganism is little acrophobic with the calendar and much with spreading arsenic wide arsenic possible. The timing this twelvemonth could beryllium little predictable, experts warn, fixed past year's mild flu play and our changing behaviors astir the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Don't effort to clip your flu changeable for erstwhile the flu volition hit. To beryllium ready, experts recommend, get your changeable arsenic soon arsenic you can.

"We person a mean clip erstwhile we expect the flu," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a prof successful the Health Division of Infectious Diseases astatine the University of California, San Francisco. "But this year, it could beryllium atypical oregon resistance connected longer, truthful that's what radical request to beryllium prepared for."

A akin displacement successful the timing of a seasonal microorganism corruption happened this summer, when the US and Japan saw a spike successful respiratory syncytial microorganism infections successful schoolchildren, Chin-Hong said. That's due to the fact that students were being educated remotely the wintertime earlier -- erstwhile RSV infections usually hap -- and didn't get exposed to the microorganism and physique up immunity. That allowed the microorganism to dispersed successful the summer, instead.

Do I request an assignment for a flu shot?

If you're utilized to walking up to your section pharmacy, infirmary oregon doctor's bureau to get a flu changeable whenever it's astir convenient, you whitethorn find this twelvemonth that you person to docket an appointment, arsenic providers conflict to dainty COVID patients, support societal distancing protocols and conscionable the request for COVID investigating and vaccinations.

Walgreens' chief aesculapian officer, Kevin Ban, recommends scheduling COVID-19 and flu vaccinations online. 

"We are doing arsenic overmuch arsenic imaginable to marque it casual for radical to docket their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated," Ban said, adding that you tin besides telephone Walgreens' toll-free number to marque an appointment.  


A flu vaccine tin assistance forestall the worst symptoms of the disease.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Is it harmless to get COVID and flu shots astatine the aforesaid time?

The CDC has confirmed it's harmless to get a flu changeable and COVID vaccination successful the aforesaid sitting. (Vaccine-maker Moderna is really moving connected a combination COVID-19/flu vaccine, but that combo won't beryllium disposable for immoderate time.)

And don't interest astir much superior broadside effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether the changeable uses 3 components oregon four, the typical side effects should beryllium the same, Chin-Hong, the UCSF doctor, said. Those see redness oregon swelling astatine the injection site, musculus ache, mild fever, headache and nausea, each of which should wide up aft a fewer days.

Want more? We've debunked nine myths astir the flu shot and explicate however to archer if you person the flu, COVID oregon a communal cold.

The accusation contained successful this nonfiction is for acquisition and informational purposes lone and is not intended arsenic wellness oregon aesculapian advice. Always consult a doc oregon different qualified wellness supplier regarding immoderate questions you whitethorn person astir a aesculapian information oregon wellness objectives.

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