The 2020-21 Influenza season and COVID-19

September 24th, 2020 | Community Leisure, Keller Corner

By West Point Health Service Area Department of Public Health

The West Point Health Service Area Department of Public Health (WPHSA) has sought direction from the Army Public Health Center (APHC), as well as guidance for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to provide up to date, relevant information for our immediate community and outlying stations with regards to the upcoming influenza season.
Essentially, we will be fighting two separate, yet highly contagious pathogens. The upcoming season will be unprecedented in modern times and will require every member of our community to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) to include strict hand hygiene, appropriate wear of face coverings/masks, cough/sneeze etiquette, social distancing and notifying a supervisor when experiencing illness.
Although the current nationwide rate of Influenza transmission is low, this is likely to change dramatically as the season progresses. With regard to SARS COV-2 or COVID-19, we in New York State are experiencing very low rates of viral transmission, yet our low numbers are absolutely dependent on strict adherence to NPI standards. As for prevention, all members of our community should be aware of similarities and differences.
The following guidance from CDC (in 2020) illustrates important information that everyone should be aware of:
Both COVID-19 and influenza can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms that may require hospitalization. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
• Fever or feeling feverish/chills;
• Cough;
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
• Fatigue (tiredness);
• Sore throat;
• Runny or stuffy nose;
• Muscle pain or body aches;
• Headache;
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Flu Symptoms
Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
• Fever or feeling feverish/chills. However, not everyone with flu will have a fever;
• Cough;
• Sore throat;
• Runny or stuffy nose;
• Muscle or body aches;
• Headaches;
• Fatigue (tiredness);
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

COVID-19 Symptoms
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported — ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19. Please note this list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19:
• Fever or chills;
• Cough;
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
• Fatigue;
• Muscle or body aches;
• Headache;
• New loss of taste or smell;
• Sore throat;
• Congestion or runny nose;
• Nausea or vomiting;
• Diarrhea.
Again, we are heading into an unprecendented influenza season that will require every member of our community to remain vigilant with respect to NPI standards.
Although we are all anticipating the completed development and distribution of a vaccine for COVID-19, we are more than likely not going to see this in the near term. Fortunately, vaccines will be available to protect the community against influenza viruses.
However, according to DOD, the scheduled distribution and delivery of influenza vaccine will be delayed until at least mid-October.
With that stated, if you or a family member(s) would like to receive an Influenza vaccination prior to our scheduled community events, please seek guidance from Tricare in order to find a location to receive your vaccine.
In the interim, we at the WPHSA Department of Public Health will do our best in order to protect our community, yet our efforts to stop the spread of influenza virus(s) and COVID-19 virus will depend heavily on every member of our community and outlying stations to adhere to strict NPI standards.
Remember, prevention is key.