CHICAGO - Illinois public health officials are urging residents to get their flu shot this year, as the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing.
"…with inconsistent mask usage, we could see a more severe flu season along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to get your flu shot," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Public Health Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The flu sickens millions of Americans every year, according to health officials, and it hospitalizes hundreds of thousands and kills tens of thousands.
"Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time if you haven’t already gotten your COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines are our best protection against severe illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths due to either flu or COVID-19," Ezike said.
Anyone over the age of 6-months-old is encouraged to get his or her flu shot.
Although symptoms of the flu and COVID are similar, there are differences. Health officials say the flu comes on more suddenly, and that COVID can be contagious for a longer amount of time compared to the flu.
The common symptoms that COVID and the flu share are as follows:
- Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.
Health officials remind Illinoisans to stay home when you are sick, wear a mask and frequently wash your hands.