WASHINGTON, D.C.—There are early signs that the coming flu season could be severe, and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) joins other health experts in recommending that everyone eligible get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the influenza (flu) to help prevent the spread of either virus.
“Last year, more people staying home and covering their faces when they did go out kept flu numbers historically low, but this year the situation could be dangerously different,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Unfortunately, misinformation is rampant, and the risk of getting or spreading either virus increases as more people dismiss proven public health protocols.”
The flu and COVID-19 are different respiratory viruses with similar symptoms. Based on all of the available information, health experts agree that the COVID vaccine is safe and effective, and the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidance to clarify that it is safe to get the flu shot at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine—if you’re eligible for a first, second or third shot.
Those with chronic health conditions, elderly individuals, racial or ethnic minorities, and health care and other essential workers are particularly vulnerable to these viruses. Flu season starts in the fall and can last until spring so emergency physicians suggest getting a flu shot by the end of October, in time for colder weather and before holiday travel.
“We should be taking every precaution to protect ourselves and our loved ones from either virus. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to avoid the double whammy of flu and COVID,” said Dr. Rosenberg.