It’s Not Too Late – And It’s Really Important!
With the overwhelming concerns and fears about the COVID-19 virus this year, it’s easy to forget that this is also flu season. As it does every year, the seasonal influenza virus will spread again and is capable of causing serious illness and even death. Health care systems are already overwhelmed caring for COVID-19 patients and may not be able to prioritize patients with serious cases of flu. That makes getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 more important than ever, especially for older adults, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Where to get a flu shot
In addition to your doctor’s office, you can get a flu show at pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS and at some immediate/urgent care centers. Medicare and many insurance companies cover the cost.
Benefits of getting a flu shot
A flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu, and from passing it on to others.
According to the CDC:
- Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2018-2019, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 4.4 million influenza illnesses, 2.3 million influenza-associated medical visits, 58,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 3,500 influenza-associated deaths.
- During seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent.
- In recent years, flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults on average by about 40%.
- A 2018 study showed that from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit with flu by 82 percent.
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.
- Flu vaccination has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
- Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
- Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions. Despite the many benefits offered by flu vaccination, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine and flu continues to cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Many more people could be protected from flu if more people got vaccinated.