Every year, health care professionals urge people to get their annual flu shot, but data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that fewer than half of American adults, and about 60% of kids, actually do. This is a statistic we’d like to see increase this year, so we’re providing three reasons to get your flu shot.
The Flu Can be Deadly
According to the CDC, between 9 and 45 million Americans get sick with the flu each year, leading to at least 140,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths. The stakes are higher this year because it is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, although experts are still studying what this may mean for patients.
Beyond that, while you are sick, your overall immunity is compromised, leaving you more susceptible to other illnesses. While the flu vaccine doesn’t protect against every possible flu strain, it can reduce the severity of the illness.
Flu & COVID-19 Symptoms are Similar
The early symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are very similar. Symptoms for both include fever, cough and sore throat, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body and headaches, and respiratory issues. If you become ill, you’ll need diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the infection and the necessary treatment plan. If you’ve had the flu shot, the chance your infection is due to the flu is reduced, and you can get the COVID-19 diagnostic test first.
Health Care Resources are Already Strained
The coronavirus pandemic has already taxed health care providers, hospitals and resources, and adding an influx of flu patients will only worsen the strain. Reducing the number of people who become sick with the flu will allow resources to remain available for people with COVID-19.
We should all make every effort to reduce our own personal risk of infection, including washing or sanitizing hands frequently, wearing a mask in public spaces and maintaining social distancing recommendations. In the case of the flu, to protect yourself and your community, you should also get a flu shot, which the CDC recommends for everyone ages 6 months and older, with some exceptions. There are different flu vaccine options, so talk to your health care provider with any questions or concerns.
Flu Vaccine FAQs
We are often asked if you can get the flu from the flu vaccine, and the short answer is no. However, it takes about two weeks for the full effect, so it is possible you can get sick during that window. In that instance, the vaccine should help reduce the severity of your illness.
Some people worry that if they get the flu shot “too early,” it won’t last through the whole season. However, this is not the case and we strongly advise that you get the flu shot as soon as it is available in your area. By the same token, don’t assume it’s too late to get the flu vaccine in December or January, as flu season lasts well through March in New England.
This year, people are asking if the flu vaccine will protect them against COVID-19, and while it will not (they are two separate viruses), it will reduce the risk that you contract both at the same time, which could be serious.
We hope these three reasons to get your flu shot were compelling. Flu vaccines will be available in our pharmacy by appointment only. Complete this form to be notified when we have flu shots available and to request an appointment; we will follow up by phone to schedule your appointment. We ask that everyone wears a mask, and that adults come into the building alone to receive their vaccines to minimize the number of people in our pharmacy. Contact us if you have any questions.