AUSTIN, TEXAS — As cold and influenza (flu) season approaches amid the coronavirus pandemic, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) urges all Americans over the age of 6 months to get a seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible and to seek prompt attention from their health care provider if they develop flu-like symptoms.
“Given the current pandemic, it is especially important this year that people take steps to avoid getting and spreading the flu virus, and the most important step is getting a flu vaccine now,” said AANP President Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP. “Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 can look similar — fever, cough, body aches — so we encourage everyone to take flu prevention seriously. As with COVID-19, we want to keep the flu from spreading to our most vulnerable citizens, as well as to the health care providers and essential workers who are already stretched thin during the pandemic.”
“If you are experiencing symptoms that indicate you may have either the flu, COVID-19 or both, it is important that you seek out health care, testing and treatment immediately and not attempt to self-diagnose,” continued Thomas. “Primary care providers and clinics can do a rapid flu test that offers results in less than an hour. If symptoms point to COVID-19 instead, then it will be important to self-quarantine. The best things you can do to protect yourself from illness this fall and winter are to get a flu vaccine and continue to wear a mask when in public, maintain a social distance of six feet from non-household members, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.”
The flu season in the United States lasts from approximately October through March, but usually peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu vaccines — administered in the form of an injection or a nasal spray — are now available from health care providers across the country, as well as many pharmacies and retail or grocery store pharmacy counters. With many Americans postponing health care appointments as a result of states’ stay-at-home orders this spring, AANP is encouraging patients to speak with their health care provider to bring all needed vaccinations up to date. This will help ensure individuals and their families stay healthy. For more information about flu vaccines this year, visit the CDC’s website.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 290,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state, and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs' patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate an NP in your community, visit to npfinder.com. For more information about NPs, visit aanp.org. For COVID-19 information from AANP, visit aanp.org/COVID19.