Man getting a flu shot

To Help Fight Coronavirus, Get a Flu Shot

The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important it is for all of us to care for our personal health, as well as the health of our families and communities.

Actions we all take – like wearing a face covering in public places and minimizing close contact with others – will continue to have a big impact in the weeks and months ahead.

There is one significant step you can take to help health care workers fight the coronavirus: by getting a flu shot.
While the flu shot will not protect you against COVID-19, the vaccine has many other important benefits.

Having more people vaccinated against the seasonal flu will decrease the amount of people that get seriously ill from the flu this winter. As experts predict health care resources will be already strained by the number of people ill from the new coronavirus, keeping people healthy from other seasonal illnesses is especially critical.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for everyone ages 6 months old and up.

The flu shot is given every year to help protect you against the dominant strains of the flu virus that experts predict will be the most active during the fall, winter and early spring months. Flu season typically begins in October and peaks in December and February – though cases can continue through the spring and into May.

The vaccine tailored for the 2020-2021 flu season will soon be available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and clinics, and the CDC recommends getting the shot as early as September or October.

During the 2018-2019 flu season, 62.6% of children ages 6-17 years old and 43.5% of adults received a flu vaccine nationally, according to the CDC. The CDC estimates that increasing the number of people that get vaccinated – just by five percentage points – could prevent thousands of hospitalizations from the flu.

Preliminary figures from the latest flu season from fall 2019 to spring 2020 show between 24,000 and 62,000 people in the U.S. died from the flu during that time.

That’s compared to the coronavirus, which has sickened people faster in a shorter time frame: since the virus was first detected in the U.S. Jan. 21, more than 100,000 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 as of the end of June.

Talk to your doctor about getting the seasonal flu shot, and to see when the latest version is available.

While researchers continue to push for a vaccine for the coronavirus, it’s on all of us to keep up to date with the existing recommended vaccines for other viruses and illnesses.

Keeping people healthy and protected against the flu will help ease the demand on hospitals and health care resources so they can be available in case of a coronavirus resurgence.

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Photo credit: annebaek

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