Video: COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 8: Why does everyone need a flu shot this year?

This video series features UW-Green Bay’s Immunologist Brian Merkel on COVID-19 and Why it Matters. This series empowers viewers with knowledge to help them navigate through the pandemic. Merkel has a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the Medical College of Virginia. He is an associate professor in UW-Green Bay’s Human Biology & Biology programs and has an appointment at the Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He will be responding to a number of questions related to COVID19 and try to get behind the “why” it’s important to be educated in your decision-making as we navigate the pandemic together.

Video Transcript – COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 8: Why does everyone need a flu shot this year?

Hello, I am Brian Merkel, Microbiology and Immunology at UW-Green Bay, and today we are continuing our series on COVID-19, talking about why we are encouraging individuals to get the influenza vaccine, especially this year.

That’s something we recommend every year because influenza is a serious infection. It’s a serious illness but especially this year because influenza does have an impact on hospital capacity, as does COVID-19. In order to make sure that hospitals are able to continue to do what they are able to do, we want to make sure everyone is protected against influenza as possible. We have a very good vaccine for influenza, so we’re strongly recommending it.

One of the things I want to make sure everybody is clear of, the influenza vaccine does not cause influenza, it’s impossible. The material that makes up the influenza vaccine, which contains seasonal strains of influenza, are completely inactivated. They cannot do anything once they get inside your body. Some symptoms may be a low fever or different kinds of things…  you may feel fatigued, is because when you get vaccinated for something it challenges your immune system. So please get your influenza vaccine. Schedule it as soon as possible because it’s in demand this year because we want to make sure that we do everything possible to make sure that our hospitals are able to continue to do what we want them to do.

Another question that comes up quite often are the symptoms in terms of similarities differences between COVID-19 and influenza. Both are infectious agents that cause those two completely different diseases but have some symptoms in common. There can be respiratory distress that’s placed on the human body so, there are similarities. We have testing options for influenza, we have options for COVID-19. So, for example, if you have lost your sense of smell or taste, that for example is something that we see with COVID-19, yet we don’t tend to find that with influenza.

But with any case, you’re best bet is to call your local healthcare provider, report your symptoms before you just show up because you are infectious and they will give you the best instructions to follow going forward.

COVID-19 Why it Matters: Video Series:

Introduction with Brian Merkel

Part 1: What are viruses and where did this one come from

Part 2: Two main types of viruses

Part 3: Why is this virus serious?

Part 4: Why wash hands/wear mask?

Part 5: I’m young! Why should I care?

Part 6: Can pandemics be stopped before they start?

Part 7: Pandemic is not local, why wear a mask?

Part 8: Why does everyone need a flu shot this year?

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