“It’s time to get your flu shot!” You’re probably used to hearing those words every year about this time. There are many reasons why getting your flu shot is important every year, but even more so this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll explain why the flu shot is important, and how it can keep you, your family, and the medical community safer this winter.
The flu shot is a vaccine. We’ve discussed the importance of vaccines in a previous blog post, which explains what vaccines are and how they work to provide immunity. Getting the flu shot helps to protect not only yourself but also those around you from getting sick with the flu. While the flu shot is not 100% effective (due to the number of strains of flu virus that exist), it does provide protection for the strains that it inoculates against (usually 3-4 strains that are predicted to be the most prevalent for the year).
In the 2018-2019 flu season, it is estimated that 49% of the US population received the flu shot, preventing 4.4 million flu illnesses and 3,500 flu deaths.
The flu is a major seasonal illness. While you can technically get the flu any time, it tends to thrive during the cooler fall and winter months, usually peaking sometime between December and February. In 2019, the CDC estimates that 35.5 million people contracted the flu, resulting in 16.5 million medical visits and 490,600 hospitalizations. Health experts are concerned that the Coronavirus pandemic may also see spikes during this same timeframe, from people congregating in schools or during the holidays, in addition to the weather providing more favorable conditions.
Because of COVID-19, it is extremely important we work to reduce the spread of typical seasonal respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. In order to prevent hospitals from reaching capacity, it’s important that people get their flu shots to prevent hospitalizations for preventable diseases. There are more flu vaccines available this year, and manufacturers have already begun to distribute them. Scientists are still studying how common it may be to have flu and COVID at the same time. It IS possible to have them both. Some of the symptoms are also quite similar. You can read about the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 in our blog.
Neighbors Emergency Center is offering flu shots at all locations on a walk-in basis to help protect our communities. Shots are free with your insurance and $25 for cash-pay. Come in to get your flu shot today and protect yourself!