This year, more than ever, it is critical that you and your loved ones get the flu vaccine.
Why? Because the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is still not under control in the United States. With flu season starting, many doctors are concerned the “twindemic” of two serious viruses circulating at once will be extremely dangerous. There currently isn’t an approved vaccine for COVID-19, but there is for the flu.
“The symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu are similar, so we’re going to see an increase in the push for people to get the flu vaccine this year,” said Mark Jansen, M.D., Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s chief medical officer. “We don’t have any extra capacity in the care delivery system to handle a spike in both. For instance, if people get a bad case of the flu and then contract pneumonia … there might not be an available hospital bed if we’re also dealing with the coronavirus. So, we really have to be good this year about getting flu shots.”
You and your family members who are older than age 7 may be able to get a flu shot at your pharmacy without even paying a copay. Some pharmacists who have been specially trained can even give flu shots to kids as young as age 3. Check with your pharmacy to see if you and your family are eligible for the flu shot at no cost to you. It’s that easy. Those are some pretty good reasons to get a flu shot.
But in case you need more motivation, consider:
- Hospitals and healthcare professionals will have their plates full with COVID-19-related illness this fall and winter, and an influx of flu patients could put even more strain on our overburdened healthcare system.
- It is possible to have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, and having both of these illnesses simultaneously dramatically increases the likelihood that you might experience potentially life-threatening complications.
- You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. And while the vaccine is not a 100% guarantee that you will not get sick, if you do get the flu, having the vaccine could turn a bad case into a mild one.
Make a plan for everyone in your family* to get a flu shot this year. And continue to wash your hands frequently, maintain proper distance in public and wear face coverings. Do it for yourself and those you love!
* A small percentage of people should not get a flu shot because of underlying health conditions. You can learn more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov/flu).