Wyoming health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated against the flu in the coming weeks as the state grapples with the coronavirus and its symptoms, which mirror many of those associated with influenza.
Twelve Wyomingites died of the flu during the 2019-20 season; flu season begins in October and ends in May. More than four times that many have died of COVID-19 in roughly the same period of time, although the coronavirus does not appear to subside during the summer months like the flu.
The two diseases are similar in that they are particularly dangerous for older and more vulnerable populations, and the similarity in symptoms — sore throat, fever, cough, headache, fatigue — makes it imperative that Wyomingites protect themselves against the flu in order to better treat patients who contract the diseases.
Flu deaths and coronavirus deaths are tracked the same way: death certificates with officials listing the disease as the cause or contributing cause of death.
“We consider flu shots to be the first and most important step in flu protection,” State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said in a statement. “Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu shot. Flu viruses change frequently, so the vaccine is updated every season. Flu vaccines are safe and reduce illness, hospitalizations and deaths.”