Posted by Dr. Thomas Horowitz
Flu is very common during winter, and if you have suffered from the flu before, you know how sick you can be. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still in our community, getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever to protect yourself and your family from flu illness and reduce the burden on our healthcare systems.
Here are some reasons to help you understand why it is important to get the flu vaccine this year:
- Protects from Flu and Respiratory Illness: While getting a flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19, it will help reduce the risk of flu and respiratory illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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.1
- Conserves Healthcare Resources and Capacity: Healthcare systems are overwhelmed treating patients with COVID-19 and several have faced shortage of hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators. During flu season, when both the flu and COVID-19 will be spreading in the community, hospitals may again face shortage of resources and capacity. It is best to do what you can to avoid getting sick. By getting the flu vaccine, you can reduce the need for medical attention and risk of hospitalization from flu—reducing the burden on the healthcare system and saving medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients and other serious patients.
- Protects High-Risk Groups from Infection: Flu vaccination is especially important for older adults and adults with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Everyone six months and older is advised to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and other high-risk adults in their household.
- Helps Easy Detection of Respiratory Illness: It is easy to detect and diagnose your illness if you get flu like symptoms and you have already received a flu vaccine this year. It helps your doctor make the diagnosis of what else your illness could be.
While measures such as social distancing (maintaining at least six feet distance from others), wearing face mask, and washing hands often can reduce the risk of COVID-19 and flu, it’s still very important to get vaccinated this year. The flu vaccination can prevent millions of influenza illnesses each year, preventing thousands of hospitalizations and deaths. You can check with your doctor to get a flu vaccine or find local flu vaccine clinics. Vaccines are also available at drug stores, supermarkets, and health clinics.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the benefits of flu vaccination? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm
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