You probably see and hear more news about the coronavirus — COVID-19 — every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its symptoms are similar to the flu, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. There is no need to panic; coronavirus can be avoided, tested, and its symptoms treated. Scientists funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are exploring ways to treat and prevent human coronavirus infections by developing new antibodies, drugs, and vaccines that block entry to cells, delay the immune system response, or block viral replication. However, the director of the NIAID said it will take 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine.

While there is no COVID-19 vaccine, your doctor may recommend the flu vaccine, which is covered by Medicare. The severity of the flu should not be underestimated. The CDC estimates up to 45 million flu illnesses in the current season alone and at least 18,000 flu deaths. According to the CDC, up to 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people aged 65 and older.

Mark Berg is a member of the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, and chairman of the Adams County Office for Aging’s Citizens Advisory Council. His email address is

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