Flu shots lessen the impact of a COVID-flu combo

September 30, 2021 Providence Body & Mind Team


In this article: 

  • The flu vaccine is the number one way to protect yourself and reduce symptoms from the virus.

  • Protecting yourself from the flu can help keep your body stronger and healthier should you contract COVID-19 or another illness.

  • Providence physicians encourage everyone to get the flu shot, particularly during the pandemic, because it can lessen the impact of infection surges on healthcare systems.

Annual flu season is the last thing you want to think about when the world is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  And, while it may not be what you want to hear, it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. 

Your best bet for staying healthy and well? Get your flu vaccine. It’s the number one way to protect yourself from getting the flu and making your symptoms less severe if you do catch the virus.

Amy Compton Phillips, chief clinical officer at Providence says, "We need to keep flu season under control so that we can care for everyone we need to during COVID and for everyone that has had delays in care because of the pandemic. You can get your COVID vaccination at the same time as your flu shot and there's no reason not to do it together."

The flu shot: Get the facts

Staying healthy is also about staying informed. In today’s world of information overload from the constant news cycle and social media feeds, it can be easy to hear and spread misinformation about the efficacy of the flu vaccine. As a quick reminder, here are a few things to know about the flu shot:

It is safe to get flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?

With flu season approaching, and the surge of COVID cases continuing, our doctors want you to know that it is safe to get both vaccines at the same time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated flu vaccine guidance recommending the annual flu vaccination for anyone 6 months and older.

Providence primary care doctor Tobias Pusch, M.D., states that the peak of flu season is expected by the second week of November. Dr. Pusch says if you are getting both vaccines separately, get vaccinated for COVID first, but there isn’t a medical need to spread them out.

“If you’re short on time and you want to go get all your vaccines done, yes, by all means, go and get that done,” Dr. Pusch says.

Here's how to get your flu shot.

The flu vaccine won’t give you the flu

The virus in the flu vaccine is too weak to make you get sick from the flu. The most common side effect from the flu shot is redness and soreness at the injection site. And if you do start to feel bad after getting the annual flu vaccine, chances are you were starting to come down with something before you got your shot. If you do run a low-grade fever temporarily after getting the flu shot, this means your body’s immune system is working like it should to fight off viral intruders.

Know your symptoms and when to get care

COVID-19 has made almost all of us run for the thermometer after every cough or body ache. As flu season approaches, it’s more important than ever to be able to recognize common symptoms of flu and COVID-19 – especially since many of the symptoms are similar.

Symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Flu symptoms can develop suddenly and be severe. If you’re feeling sick and aren’t sure about your symptoms, it’s best to talk to your primary care provider. Your provider can help you decide what your next steps should be and recommend a treatment plan to help you feel better. 

Healthy habits reduce your risk of getting sick

Whether it’s fighting off the flu, preventing the spread of COVID-19 or just doing your best to avoid a pesky cold, there are simple steps you can take as you prepare for this flu season, including:

  • Wearing a face mask. The science is clear. Face coverings can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Washing your hands. Proper handwashing hygiene can keep you and your family stay healthy.
  • Staying home if you’re sick. Play it safe and avoid being around others if you’re not feeling well.

Eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and staying active can also go a long way in boosting your immunity and fighting off germs that can cause illnesses.

Get more information from Providence about how to fight the flu this season.


Get your flu vaccine

Are you experiencing flu-like symptoms, or would you like to schedule your flu vaccine? Use our provider directory to find the right Providence physician for you. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services. 

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Related resources

Yes, it's safe to get the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time

The importance of flu shots in COVID-19 era

Why it’s even more important this year to be prepared for cold and flu season

Flu fact or myth?

Coronavirus or Flu? Tips for staying healthy this winter

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Body & Mind Team is dedicated to providing medically-sound, data-backed insights and advice on how to reach and maintain your optimal health through a mixture of exercise, mindfulness, preventative care and healthy living in general.

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