Health Team

Flu, COVID-19 and Halloween: How to prepare for a triple-threat this fall

Posted September 28, 2020 6:30 a.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2020 8:46 a.m. EDT

Fall and Halloween are upon us, and local experts say it could be a scary season due to a triple threat of health concerns — the flu, COVID-19 and holiday celebrations.

Families don’t need to cancel Halloween but should consider making a safety plan to adapt to this year’s special circumstances.

Find a flu shot near you

Although Halloween masks are common for trick-or-treaters, the CDC says revelers should be careful not to depend upon costume masks for COVID-19 protection.

CDC releases its Halloween recommendations

Bailey Wiggins, a physician assistant with American Family Care in Fuquay-Varina, offers a solution.

"They could always do their mask under their Halloween mask, (which) might be a safer option," said Wiggins.

This season, she also recommends keeping all Halloween festivities outdoors and with safe social distance recommendations in mind. Rather than traditional indoor parties, Wiggins suggests trying virtual parties or costume contests to see friends.

Instead of passing out treats at the door, Wiggins recommends leaving "goodie-bags" outside on the porch or driveway for young visitors to grab with adult supervision.

Kids should "go up one at a time, ensuring that they’re keeping social distancing," said Wiggins.

According to Wiggins, the smartest step for family safety this season is for everyone to get the flu shot as soon as possible.

"We’re recommending getting it by Halloween because it does take a few weeks for the flu shot to give you your full immunity," said Wiggins.

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses with similar signs and symptoms including fever, fatigue, weakness, runny nose, body aches and headache.

Wiggins said there is one key difference.

"The flu is going to hit you like a ton of bricks, but COVID is a little bit more gradual," she said.

Also, COVID-19 typically presents with a lost sense of taste and smell, a rare issue with influenza. The flu typically includes nasal congestion, which is not a common symptom associated with COVID-19.

While the flu vaccine does not guarantee full protection from flu symptoms, it can reduce the severity of symptoms by 60 percent.

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