With all the recent media coverage regarding Covid-19 booster vaccination and access to Covid-19 vaccination in the 5 to 11 years age group, it is important not to forget that the 2022 flu season is rapidly approaching.
Fortunately, the incidence of influenza has been relatively low in the last 2 years due to social distancing measures. However, with the lifting of restrictions, the opening of borders and a ‘live with Covid’ approach, it is now important more than ever to stay protected against influenza infection.
With the increased number of Covid-19 infections in the community recently, there are concerns that there is a real risk of having both Covid-19 and influenza infections at once – dubbed “Flurona”.
Co-infection with more than one virus at a time is not new. Previously people would get multiple viruses that cause common colds (other common coronaviruses), rhinoviruses, or adenoviruses, which all cause similar symptoms and clinically difficult to tell apart (without conventional respiratory PCR testing).
Flurona fortunately has not been seen to be very prevalent so far, but experts say it is too early to tell who is more prone to it. It is important though to be extra vigilant if you are prone to respiratory infections (such as having asthma or bronchitis) or are immunocompromised (such as on immunosuppressant therapies, organ transplant recipients).
It is important also to note that even though symptoms can be very similar, both Influenza and Covid-19 are caused by very different viruses and different vaccinations are needed to provide protection from each.
Symptoms of both can include:
- Fever / chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Loss of smell (more prevalent in Covid-19)
Both are spread predominantly through droplets or aerosols. However, Covid-19 appears to be much more contagious than influenza, especially the recent variants.
Both viruses can cause severe illness in those who are immunocompromised (such as the elderly, pregnant, those with chronic medical illnesses). However, Covid-19 appears to cause more serious illness and death (even in previously healthy people). Some can go on to develop long term complications, including ‘long Covid’ or multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
The best available protection against both Influenza and Covid-19 is, as always, prevention. As well as maintaining good hygiene practices, vaccination is another measure we can all take to protect ourselves, our families and community.
Currently 2 separate vaccinations are required to protect against both Covid-19 and Influenza. Annual flu vaccination is recommended due to changes in circulating flu strains each winter season. And as we have seen in recent times with new strains of Covid-19 it looks like regular booster vaccinations will be required also to cover these.
Australia’s expert vaccination advisory group (ATAGI) have recently advised that both flu and Covid-19 vaccination can be given concurrently on the same day. Flu vaccination is currently recommended for ages 6 months and over. Covid-19 vaccination is currently recommended for ages 5 and up.
Here at AusTrials we are excited to have the opportunity to take part in a study comparing a combined flu/Covid-19 booster vaccine. This has the potential to increase vaccine coverage by offering the convenience of a 2-in-1 vaccination formulation. Contact AusTrials on 1300 190 841 to find out more.