It could happen if you were exposed to a flu virus just before getting your shot or during the period it takes for your body to get protection after the vaccination. Also, since the flu virus can change, you could have been exposed to a version of it that isn’t included in the seasonal vaccine.
Myth 2: You can’t get the flu and the coronavirus at the same time
Experts have worried about a “twin-demic” amid the coronavirus outbreak and flu season this fall and winter.
“It is certainly possible, although we aren’t clear how coinfection occurs,” Dr. Jay Bhatt, former chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association told ABC News. “We will learn more as we get into the flu season.”
Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician in Florida, told CNN that getting both viruses at the same time “could be catastrophic to your immune system.”
Myth 3: Wearing masks means the flu won’t be an issue
Although many cities in metro Atlanta require residents to wear masks in public, that doesn’t mean that wearing them will make the flu obsolete.
Rochester, Minnesota-based infectious disease specialist Pritish K. Tosh said on the Mayo Clinic website that “[i]n some cases, wearing a mask might help protect you from the human influenza A and B viruses — the ones responsible for most seasonal outbreaks of flu (influenza).”
Tosh also noted that if you have the flu and need to leave the house, wearing a mask may help keep you from spreading the virus.
Regardless, that doesn’t change the effectiveness of masks in helping to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC recommends everyone age 2 and older wear a mask in public, as the coronavirus can be spread asymptomatically. The recommendation for people to wear masks is based on the knowledge of the highly contagious virus being spread by respiratory droplets through coughing, sneezing or talking.
With the flu, the CDC notes adults can potentially be contagious with influenza virus one day ahead of showing symptoms “and up to approximately 5 to 7 days after onset of illness; thus, the selective use of masks (e.g., in proximity to a known symptomatic person) may not effectively limit transmission in the community.” Any immunocompromised person, young children and critically ill patients with influenza can become contagious with influenza viruses in the respiratory system for an increased period. So the emphasis is instead placed on getting a flu vaccine and anti-viral medications along with actions such as cleaning surfaces regularly and covering coughs and sneezes.
Myth 4: The flu is more deadly than the coronavirus
Live Science reported in May that while the death rate for COVID-19 was unclear, nearly “all credible research suggests it is much higher than that of the seasonal flu.”
Dr. Mandy Armitage, a board-certified physician, medical writer, and consultant, wrote on GoodRx that deaths from the coronavirus and the flu are not counted the same and that flu deaths are CDC estimates based on data from death certificates and deaths occurring in hospitals. Influenza deaths in the U.S. are not required to be counted, so counts aren’t direct. Meanwhile, deaths from COVID-19 are being recorded, including in Georiga.
During the 2018-2019 flu season, the CDC estimated there were 35.5 million U.S. cases and 34,200 deaths. Comparatively, the CDC reports that as of Oct. 11, there have been 7.7 million cases and
213,614 deaths due to COVID-19.
Myth 5: A flu vaccination will protect you from COVID-19
This one isn’t entirely untrue. It depends on the type of flu vaccine and, even then, it will offer only some protection from COVID-19.
Virologist Robert Gallo, who directs the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is chairman of the Global Virus Network, told NPR that it’s possible but “the vaccine has to have a live virus in it. The virus is attenuated so it doesn’t cause disease, but otherwise, the virus is alive.”