Why You Really Need a Flu Shot This Year

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Published on September 02, 2020

Why You Really Need a Flu Shot This Year

Illustration of a syringe with a caption reading With flu season arriving during a pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot.

Although the country’s focus is understandably on the COVID-19 pandemic right now, flu season is upon us whether we’re ready for it or not. That means that even if you usually skip getting an annual flu shot, this is one year you should consider getting one.

After you receive a flu shot, your body produces antibodies that will kill the virus if you’re exposed to it. It won’t protect you against every strain of influenza virus but it will help against the strains expected to be the most common. Even if you still get sick after getting a flu shot, your illness will usually be milder than if you didn’t get the vaccine at all. Getting a flu shot not only protects you but reduces spread of the virus in your community.

Protect your health and your community’s healthcare resources by getting a flu shot this year. The CDC recommends you get a flu shot by the end of October but anytime you get one will provide health benefits to you and those around you.

Getting Your Flu Shot at PIH Health

All PIH Health primary care offices are now stocked with the seasonal flu vaccine for all ages. You can also stop by one of the PIH Health urgent care centers or pharmacies to request a flu shot.

Still not sure you need one? Read on for a few good reasons to get one this year even if you normally don’t.

You’ll Reduce Your Chance of Getting Sick

Since the COVID-19 and flu viruses are both active right now – and will be throughout the fall and winter – your chance of becoming sick this year is higher than usual. Although getting a flu shot won’t stop you from getting COVID-19, it will make it less likely you’ll get the flu. Not getting the flu will keep you healthier and your immune system stronger, which is important with the coronavirus running rampant.

If you don’t get a flu shot, you may find yourself battling the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Or you can develop the flu while you’re still recovering from coronavirus or vice versa. Becoming ill with both viruses within a short period of time may make you very sick and lead to more serious complications.

People who are over age 65, under age 2 or those with serious health issues are more likely to develop severe complications from the flu. A flu shot is particularly important if you’re pregnant, work in a healthcare setting, live in a nursing home or have an underlying health condition such as heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, asthma, HIV/AIDS or a condition that suppresses your immune system. But no matter what your age and health condition, it’s hard to predict whether the flu will cause mild, moderate or severe symptoms.

It Will Be Easier to Make a Diagnosis

Both the flu and COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms, including coughing, fever, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, body aches and difficulty breathing. If you develop any of these symptoms, it may be harder for a doctor to determine why you’re sick and which type of treatment would be most effective. This is especially problematic if COVID testing is hard to get where you live or results take a long time to get back. If you’ve had a flu shot, it will make it less likely your symptoms are due to the flu and more likely they’re a result of the coronavirus.

Hospitals Won’t Be as Overwhelmed

Hospitals quickly reached capacity in coronavirus hot spots this spring and summer. Flu season, coupled with the continuing pandemic, may stretch healthcare resources even thinner during the fall and winter – making it difficult for people to get the care they need.

Last year, more than 400,000 people were hospitalized due to the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If a similar situation happens this year, hospitals may be unable to cope with the increased demand for healthcare services due to a combination of the flu and COVID-19.

“Historically, less than half of Americans get flu vaccines. This is the year that I’m asking the American public to seriously reconsider, because that decision may make available a hospital bed for somebody else that really needs it for COVID,” Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC Director, explained during a TIME 100 Talks discussion.

If you need medical attention, there are several ways to receive care before a hospital visit becomes appropriate. You can schedule an in-person visit with your primary care provider or visit one of our Urgent Care Centers. Alternatively, PIH Health Physicians offers the option for telehealth visits. A telehealth appointment provides individual time with your provider via your mobile device or computer. These virtual appointments with your provider allow you to continue receiving the care you need without leaving your home. Whichever setting you choose, you will be helping hospitals ensure they have the lifesaving space and resources they need during this flu season.

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