Flu season is here! Protect yourself

October 20, 2020 Providence News Team

Want to avoid the flu this year? Getting a flu shot each year is the best protection. Providence recommends a flu shot for everyone 6 months or older, especially:

  • People age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • Individuals of any age with chronic illness, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, asthma or diabetes or are immuno-compromised
  • People who live with or care for those at higher risk.

Will the flu shot protect me from COVID-19?

The flu vaccine will not help you avoid COVID-19 infection, says Providence Southwest Infectious Disease Physician Preeti Kondal, D.O., because it is a different virus than influenza. But it will guard you against influenza strains that are expected this flu season, specifically two different influenza A strains, and two different influenza B strains.

Why should I get a flu shot, especially this year?

Getting a flu shot decreases the possible impacts on your respiratory system. It not only reduces your risk of illness but can prevent hospitalizations. Fewer people in the hospital fighting the flu also leaves more resources for the care of COVID-19 and other emergent patients.

While the flu shot is not 100 percent effective, even if you do get the flu, symptoms are usually milder if you have been vaccinated.

When is the best time to get a flu shot?

“The flu vaccine is available now, and you should be vaccinated early in fall before the season begins as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop to provide protection,” says Dr. Kondal. “The vaccine protection lasts about six months.”

Flu season typically peaks in January or February.

How do I get a flu shot?

First, contact your primary care provider. If you do not have one, check with your pharmacy, or an immediate care, express care or urgent care clinic. Flu shots are covered by most insurance plans.

What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

Don’t delay care

Throughout the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about our patients. We know many patients have some concerns about getting care for non-COVID-related conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders. These, and many others, are serious conditions that need to be addressed immediately, and we want all our patients and consumers in the communities we serve to know that we are here for you.

You should use a hospital emergency room for very serious or life-threatening problems. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, don’t wait! Call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency room for:

  • Severe chest pain/heart palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ingestion of objects or poisons
  • Major/significant trauma or injury
  • Seizures
  • Severe burns
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Uncontrollable bleeding/vomiting blood
  • Animal bites
  • Fainting/unconsciousness

As we continue to treat COVID-19 patients, please know our doctors are still here, virtually and in-person, to address your medical needs. Our emergency departments, immediate care clincs and other clinics are available and delivering high-quality care when you need it. Please don’t wait to get the medical care you need. Maintaining your health now is just as important as ever.

Don’t have a primary care provider? No time to get into the doctor’s office? Providence provides options

If you need care right away —but your condition is not life-threatening — an immediate care clinic may be your best option. They’re open extended hours during weekdays and weekends and you don’t need an appointment; you’ll be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Use immediate care for common illnesses (flu, colds, fever, sore throats, headaches, skin irritations) and minor injuries.

Providence has three immediate care clinics in Thurston County:

Lacey Immediate Care

4800 College St. SE


Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; weekends 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

West Olympia Immediate Care

1620 Cooper Point Road SW


Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.;
weekends 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Hawks Prairie Immediate Care

2555 Marvin Road NE,

Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; weekends 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.


There’s an app for that!

Providence Express Care Virtual is an app that provides $49 online visits for minor illnesses right on your smartphone, tablet or computer. No appointment needed. Most insurance companies now cover the cost of these visits. Virtual visits are an easy, convenient way to get a diagnosis and treatment recommendation, including a prescription, if needed. Wait times average less than five minutes.

This service is ideal for many common health conditions, including:

  • Sinus, ear or eye infections
  • Cough, cold and flu
  • Rash and joint issues
  • Prescription refills

You can access Express Care Virtual by visiting virtual.providence.org






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The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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