4 your health: Preparing for fall viruses

There are many illnesses that circulate in the fall like the flu, the common cold, and COVID-19 still lingers. Find out how to prepare.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 2:13 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - There are many illnesses that circulate in the fall like the flu, the common cold, and COVID-19 still lingers. Each of these viruses have similar symptoms like sneezing, coughing, fever, fatigue, so it can be hard to tell which one you have been bogged down with.

“It can be very difficult to tell,” Dr. George Narby, Chief Medical Officer at Southeast Health, said.

Dr. Narby said the current COVID strain that is circulating is not helping when it comes to differentiating the wintery illnesses based on symptoms alone.

“The current circulating variant of COVID is very similar to a cold for many people and it’s hard to tell which is which,” Dr. Narby said.

It comes down to taking a test to get that answer.

“That might encourage you to isolate a little further should you find out you actually do have COVID,” Dr. Narby said.

Dr. Narby said it’s important to keep standard precautions in mind as we head into a new season like handwashing, social distancing and covering your coughs and sneezes.

“The flu actually kills thousands of Americans every year,” Dr. Narby said.

That is not the only deadly virus to take caution for this Fall. COVID continues to be a concern across the nation. The latest variant may be milder, but it is still dangerous.

“Over 400 Americans are dying everyday of COVID even today,” Dr. Narby said. “So that illness remains something to be contended with, it remains an important cause of illness.”

That is why the message of prevention is pushed to the forefront.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Dr. Narby said. “It’s always important to consider getting vaccinated.”

A vaccine for both the Flu and COVID are widely available.

“The new COVID vaccine that covers the current circulating Omicron variants BA4 and BA5 is now available in the community, and I encourage everyone taking that,” Dr. Narby said. “That can certainly reduce your chances of getting sick and reduce the chances of spreading COVID to somebody else.”

Dr. Narby encourages people to get both to prevent a severe case of either virus.

He says the best time to get a flu shot to prepare for the peak season is now through Thanksgiving, but it’s never too late.

“That is because the Flu shot does tend to wear off and it lasts about six months,” Dr. Narby said. “So you want to cover that time when the flu peaks. Generally, I have not experienced a lot of flu in the community until maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas time and late December, and it tends to peak in maybe January, February.”

As of Monday, September 12th, Southeast Health is caring for just under 20 COVID patients.

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