In the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted the world’s daily lifestyle, drastically altering the way people work, study and socialize. While concerns of the contagious respiratory illness have been top priority around the world, the season for yet another contagious respiratory illness is in full swing: the flu.
While flu vaccines are typically pushed by medical professionals around the world, the recommendation to get one is typically strong this year, due to COVID-19.
“I think it’s especially important now during the pandemic to get a flu shot,” CWC representative and third-year student Alex Conte said. “We don’t really know if it has any help with COVID, but the flu also does kill people every year, and so now that we’re going into [flu] season as well as having COVID, definitely be extra cautious this year.”
Both COVID-19 and the flu have multiple shared common symptoms, identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as “fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue (tiredness), sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headache.”
According to the CDC, “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.” Additionally, the CDC warns in favor of a flu vaccine due to the possibility of an individual contracting both COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously.
As flu season has been in full effect since September 1, flu vaccinations have been available for some individuals since July, though CDC guidelines recommend waiting to be vaccinated until September or October. New College’s Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) is currently working to schedule multiple days for on-campus flu shots, something Conte is strongly in favor of.
“Being a student can make it really hard to schedule things,” says Conte. “I think it [having several flu shot clinics] would be really helpful, especially during that first semester because the CDC recommends that October is when people get vaccinated for the flu because it’s the start of the season, but anytime now would be a great time to get the flu vaccine.”
Flu shots are free with most insurance at your primary care providers, CVS, or Walgreens. Free campus flu shots should be arriving in the coming weeks—look out for an email soon.