There are various health and safety measures we should practice to help boost our immunity and decrease our risk of getting sick. Continue to implement COVID-19 protective measures such as washing your hands, avoiding people who are sick, and wearing a mask. Other healthy lifestyle practices include getting enough sleep each night, eating healthy meals, and exercising regularly (Providence Mind & Body Team, 2020). These habits can better prepare our bodies and immune systems to avoid or fight off a virus. One other key preventive measure is to get your flu shot.

Originally published 9/30/21, updated 12/19/22 – For the latest information please see CDC website or your local government website.

Preparing for the Flu Season

While some COVID-19 safety measures have decreased, it is possible that there will be an increase in flu activity this year (Stein, 2022).

Flu season starts in October, and it is recommended to get the flu vaccine by the end of October (Kritz, 2021). Older adults continue to be at greater risk of serious illness or complications from both the flu and COVID-19 (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). Thus, it is especially important to be prepared for flu season once again this winter.


Flu Shot Benefits

The flu can be a serious illness for anyone, but older adults are at greater risk for flu-related complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the 2018-2019 flu season, there was an estimated 34,200 flu-related deaths (Nania, 2020). The flu can also increase the risks of heart attacks and strokes (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, n.d.). While the flu shot is not 100% effective in preventing the flu, it can reduce the severity of illness in people who do get it. Both the flu and COVID-19 can lead to a serious lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), where breathing becomes difficult (Nania, 2020).

A few different versions of the flu shot are available, depending on your needs (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). For people age 65 and older, they may choose between a regular flu shot or an enhanced flu shot that creates a stronger immune response to the vaccination. The CDC does not recommend one flu shot over the other; rather, everyone over the age of 65 is encouraged to get a flu shot every year (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). While it is best to get a flu shot as early as September or October, vaccination after October can still offer protection during peak flu season (Centers for Disease Control, 2020). With insurance, flu shots are typically free at pharmacies. Without insurance, flu shots can range from $20 to $70 (Marsh, 2020). However, many county health departments or free clinics offer free or low-cost flu shots.

Visit to find a safe and convenient location near you. You may need to schedule an appointment to get the flu shot.

Flu and COVID-19 Symptoms (Centers for Disease Control, 2022)

The flu and COVID-19 have similar signs and symptoms. Testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis for what the illness is. Getting diagnosed and treated early for both the flu and COVID-19 can help reduce the risk of getting very sick. The flu and COVID-19 symptoms can have varying degrees of severity. Common symptoms shared by the flu and COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (more frequent in children with the flu, but can happen for anyone with COVID-19)
  • Change or loss of taste or smell (this is more frequent with COVID-19)

Regardless of a cold, flu, or COVID-19 diagnosis, if you are feeling sick, isolate yourself from others to prevent further spread of any of the viruses.

General Warning Signs (Providence Mind & Body Team, 2020):

If you experience any of these warning signs, contact your doctor right away as it may turn into something more serious.

  • Persistent fever over 100.4°F in addition to taking fever-reducing medication
  • New or worsening shortness of breath
  • Confusion or disorientation

While preparing for flu season, it is important to continue COVID-19 health and safety practices this winter to minimize the spread. Following these guidelines and recommendations will keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our community safe and healthy.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020-2021 Season. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). 2020-2021 Flu Season Summary. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19. Retrieved from

Kritz, F. (2021). It’s Time for a Flu Shot. Here’s What you Need to Know. Retrieved from

Marsh, T. (2020). Here’s How to Get Discounted (Or Even Free) FluShots This Year. Retrieved from

Nania, R. (2020). 3 Reasons You’ll Regret Skipping the Flu Shot This Year. Retrieved from

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. (n.d.). Influenza and Older Adults. Retrieved from

Providence Body & Mind Team. (2020). Why it’s even more important this year to be prepared for cold and flu season. Retrieved from

 Stein, R. (2022). Flu is expected to flare up in U.S. this winter, raising fear of a ‘twindemic.’ Retrieved from