It has been over 2 years now and COVID-19 is still a concern in the community. While the spread of the COVID-19 virus was ongoing for the past 2 years, the trouble from influenza was lesser and also got unnoticed. But, this winter has been a nightmare for many households throughout Australia.

Both influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses. Similar symptoms between the two viruses include a runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache, and exhaustion.

Both COVID-19 and influenza can cause varying degrees of illness in individuals. Some people may be symptomless, have minor symptoms, or have a serious illness.

When a person with COVID-19 or influenza coughs, sneezes, speaks or breathes, droplets and aerosols are released into the air. People nearby—typically within one meter of the sick person, but occasionally much farther—can get the droplets and aerosols in their eyes, noses, or mouths.

By contacting contaminated surfaces, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth without washing their hands, people can also contract COVID-19 and influenza.

According to the health.gov.au website, “Australians are being encouraged to take on winter by receiving their flu shot and staying up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination. The new ‘Take on winter’ campaign reminds people we are more vulnerable to illnesses this year and it’s safe to have both COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations at the same time.”                                                                                                                              

People with chronic medical conditions, older adults, and pregnant women should be very careful as they have a higher risk of getting infected. Compared to influenza, COVID-19 is much more contagious and spreads more quickly.

Australia has done well in limiting COVID-19 when compared to several other nations. International and state border restrictions, sporadic lockdowns in select areas, and a very effective initial vaccination launch have reduced the impact of illness to a greater extent.

Our communities should step up their efforts to preserve population immunity through booster vaccinations and appropriate preventative measures for the remainder of the winter.

We need to make sure that our COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations are current.

Avoid crowded areas at all costs, and when we must, we should use a mask. We must continue to cover our faces when we offer Juma prayers in a mosque.

Simple routines, such as washing hands and coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue, can have a big impact. Let us try our best to stay protected this winter.