Like clockwork, we hear the warnings every year. When flu season rolls around, everyone is encouraged to get the vaccine to prevent the spread of influenza. There are many reasons why getting the flu vaccine is beneficial and highly recommended. What are some of those reasons and, more importantly, why is it more vital than ever that you get your flu shot during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Usual Benefits of the Flu Vaccine
The most obvious benefit of flu vaccination is that it can keep you from coming down with the flu. While 100% protection is not guaranteed, getting vaccinated does make a difference.
In fact, during 2018-2019, it was estimated to have prevented more than 4 million flu illnesses, more than 2 million flu-related medical visits, tens of thousands of hospital visits and 40,000-60,000 deaths. It may have even been you who was spared from the flu and its potential complications as a result of vaccination (on your part or that of others)!
What other compelling reasons are there to get your flu shot yearly? Besides reducing your risk of getting sick and reducing hospitalizations, the vaccine has been shown to:
- Prevent and limit the severity of influenza illnesses in people with chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk for complications
- Protect women during and after pregnancy, as well as protecting their newborn child(ren)
- Reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get the flu anyway. Since every flu season and every individual’s response to influenza are different, you’ll want to have the most protection possible against things going south
Don’t forget that, even if you’re not pregnant or dealing with chronic illness, your flu shot can protect others around you who are. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Flu Shots Can Save Lives During COVID-19
Experts have predicted that the viruses responsible for the flu and COVID-19 will be co-circulating this fall and winter. This has the potential to cause several problems.
- It could perpetuate the spread of COVID through individuals who mistake symptoms as mild flu and do not adhere to the recommended guidelines for the sick
- Contracting the flu and coronavirus at the same time comes with an increased risk of serious and even life-threatening illness
- Severe but preventable cases of the flu requiring hospitalization take away the staff and resources needed to treat COVID-19 patients
Protect Yourself, Protect Others
As you can see, the flu vaccination is more important than ever before. While in 2018-2019, less than half of all Americans got the flu shot, we hope that many more will do their part to protect themselves and others this year, especially since the stakes have been raised by the pandemic.
With fall already upon us and flu season looming, now is the time to get your flu shot. Since the vaccine takes about two weeks to trigger the creation of antibodies, the sooner, the better!