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Does the flu vaccine affect my chances of getting COVID-19?

The Associated Press
AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin;

Does the flu vaccine affect a person's chances of getting COVID-19?

The flu vaccine protects you from seasonal influenza, not the coronavirus — but avoiding the flu is especially important this year.

Health officials and medical groups are urging people to get either the flu shot or nasal spray so that doctors and hospitals don't face the extra strain of having to treat influenza in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

More:York County COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise, but officials aren't panicking just yet

More:Pennsylvania confirms virus resurges; no plans for lockdown

Not to mention the confusion factor: The illnesses have such similar early symptoms that people who get the flu may mistakenly think they have COVID-19, said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Only a test can tell the two apart.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for everyone starting at 6 months of age and suggests getting it by the end of October.

The CDC says the vaccine will not cause you to fall ill with the flu and that the protection it provides takes about two weeks to kick in.The flu vaccine isn't perfect, but studies show if the vaccinated get sick, they don't get as severely ill.

A few flawed studies over the years have attempted to link the flu vaccine to increased risk of other respiratory infections, but experts say there is no evidence that is true.

In York County, there are a wide variety of places to get vaccinated, including CVS, Walmart, Family First Health and WellSpan York Hospital.

To see all options in the county, the CDC website offers a list of establishments that offer vaccinations through a database that is searchable by ZIP code. The vaccination finder can be found here.

— The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.