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Flu Shots Are Needed More Than Ever with COVID-19

With COVID-19 entering our lives, getting vaccinated for the flu is more inportant than ever. Learn why.

Each year, flu vaccination plays a major role in protecting individual and community health. Now, with the presence of COVID-19, getting vaccinated for the flu is more important than ever before. While there are now several vaccines for COVID-19, it is crucial to protect your overall health as a preventative measure. Here’s what you need to know about flu vaccination.

What is the flu?
The flu is an infection that can be caused by several strains of the influenza virus. The influenza virus infects the upper respiratory tract, causing symptoms like coughing, runny nose, fever, headache, and a sore throat.

How serious is the flu?
The flu varies in severity every year, but for most people, the symptoms are fairly mild. However, the CDC notes that the flu affects millions of people every year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

The presence of COVID-19 could make getting the flu more dangerous.

Can the flu make COVID-19 worse?
When your immune system is fighting an infection like the flu, it may be more vulnerable to other illnesses like COVID-19. Dr. Stephen Epner says, “It may be possible that people could be infected with both this year, either at the same time or separately. We don’t know if getting the flu might make the illness caused by COVID-19 worse.”

Each infection by itself can cause hospitalizations and even death, so it is prudent to take precautions against them. “Getting the flu vaccine could prevent or reduce the possibility of having to deal with two infections,” Dr. Epner says. He encourages everyone who qualifies for a flu vaccine to get one this season.

Who should get the flu shot?
With only rare exceptions (such as life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients), annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and up.

Flu vaccination is highly recommended for people with an elevated risk of developing serious complications from the flu or COVID-19. This includes people over the age of 65, children under 5 years old, pregnant women, and anyone with chronic medical conditions like asthma, COPD, diabetes, or heart disease.

When should I get the flu shot?
The earlier, the better. After getting the flu shot, it takes at least two weeks for the body to develop immunity, so we recommend getting your flu shot as early as you can.