The onset of the coming winter heralds the start of the flu season in the Northern Hemisphere. To counter that, the 2020 - 2021 flu vaccines have been released. Having previously written about the annual flu vaccine, this time round, we thought of exploring the benefit of the vaccine against a Covid-19 backdrop. Photo Credit: VOICE Covid-19 & Influenza - What's The Difference? Covid-19 is caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus, while Influenza is caused by either Influenza A, or B viruses. While their origins are different, the some presenting symptoms are strikingly similar, making it difficult to initially differentiate between the two. Common symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, and a blocked or runny nose. To check if someone is infected with Covid-19, a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain (RT-PCR) test is conducted. If a positive reading is confirmed, the person will be shuttled immediately to a government designated hospital.\u00a0\u00a0 Covid-19 is a highly contagious virus, which can cause serious medical complications as the virus progresses, at least for some people. Unlike the flu, there is no known vaccine for it yet. Photo Credit: Hegg Health Center Scheduling Your Shot With fresh vaccines in the market, now is the perfect time to schedule in those appointments. To cut down exposure time, vaccinating the whole family at one go is a good idea. When booking your slot, make sure you reserve vaccines for the 2020 - 2021 flu season. Older vaccines have already reached their past due date, and would not be effective. In addition to the amount of vaccines required, your doctor may need to know the individual ages of each patient. Some vaccines are targeted to age-specific groups. Another important mention is allergies, in particular, egg allergies, since some vaccines are cultured in eggs. If someone in your family harbours such an allergy, your doctor will be able to substitute that vaccine with another, more suitable one. Photo Credit: Bristol Herald Courier Knowing Which Vaccine Flu vaccines come in trivalent (3 virus), or quadrivalent (4 virus) doses. The choice of vaccines rests in the decision of the doctor, who is the best person to curate dosages for all in the family. One-shot should provide you with optimal protection for a year. Children between 6 months to 8 years of age may require a booster. Your doctor should be able to advise you on this. The vaccine needs a lead time of about 2 weeks for antibodies to form. During that time, since your immunity is low, it is possible for you to catch the flu. To stay safe, staying home would be a good idea. Photo Credit: UPMC MyHealth Matters Where Do I Go? While you can get your vaccines anywhere, it is prudent to stick, where possible, to one health provider, since they are the custodians of your health records. However, life in the time of Covid-19 does present a whole set of challenges, especially with movement restrictions. If you have to go elsewhere, having this information would be helpful: the date of your previous inoculation, the name of the previous vaccine, and if it was a trivalent, or quadrivalent shot, allergic reactions observed in any family member. Photo Credit: Science News To Help You Along If you are still wondering if the flu shot is best for the family, here are some considerations to help you along. Photo Credit: Family Practice Associates of Upper Dublin Keeping The Flu Away The flu shot is pretty good at keeping the flu at bay. If you do get it, the symptoms will not be as severe as a full-blown flu. Right now, keeping the family healthy is optimal, since everyone has to stay home. The flu can spread like wildfire in confined spaces. So keeping it at bay is perhaps the healthier, and better option for all at home. Photo Credit: Healthline Shielding Mimicry Since the flu shot goes a long way in protecting you from the virus, you should have little, or very mild flu-like symptoms, if any. Should you come down with a high fever, and have other presenting flu symptoms, you could have contracted Covid-19. With that realisation, you could move quicker to isolate, and test yourself for the virus. This would go some way in helping us flatten that curve. Photo Credit: Time Magazine Facing A Twindemic Since Covid-19 and Influenza viruses are different, it is possible to come down with both infections simultaneously. That could result in disastrous consequences. Flu season, in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres occur in winter. However, in Malaysia, the constancy of our temperature means that flu season runs throughout the year. Following that line of thought, it is easy to see how someone could possibly contract two viruses simultaneously. While the flu shot will not give you 100% immunity, it is the next best thing available to protect you, and your family. Photo Credit: ParentMap As year winds down, Covid-19 seems to be ramping up infections. As at the time of writing, there are more questions than answers as to how we will fare globally with the onset of winter. While Covid-19 crept into the world last winter, its infection rate was fledging. The same cannot be said today. To help flatten the curve, and keep Covid-19 at bay, we should keep up a good hygiene routine, which includes, washing hands, wearing a mask, keeping socially distant, and staying home. And, perhaps that flu shot? Stay safe everyone!