Blue Earth County Public Health encourages residents to get the flu vaccine as the best way to avoid contracting influenza, especially since flu symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19.
The seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The signs and symptoms of the seasonal flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Many of COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu. People who contract the flu will experience a range of symptoms from mild to severe, just as has been seen with COVID-19.
“The timing and severity of the flu season is unpredictable,” says Eric Weller, Regional Healthcare Preparedness Coordinator for the South Central Healthcare Coalition. “And because symptoms of the flu and COVID are similar, people may initially dismiss mild symptoms as nothing to be concerned about. That's why the flu vaccine is more important than ever."
For more information about the differences between COVID-19 and the flu, click on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm
"We know that getting your flu vaccination/flu shot - ideally before the end of October - can significantly increase your chances of avoiding the flu and reducing its symptoms," says Kelley Haeder, Blue Earth County Public Health Supervisor, "Everyone 6 months of age and older should get flu vaccine every year. Getting a flu vaccine helps protect you from getting the flu and prevents you from passing it to people who could get very sick."
Vaccination is especially important for children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes and other long-term conditions who are at high risk from flu complications.
Officials remind the public, in addition to getting the seasonal flu vaccine, there are other steps everyone can take to prevent contracting and spreading the flu. They include: