Do you Need to Get A Flu Shot?

Mary Sophia Hawks Parish NUrch

Here are five important reasons infectious disease experts, rheumatologists, and other medical experts want you to get vaccinated for flu during COVID-19.Even though the flu vaccine won’t protect against COVID-19 infection, it has been shown to reduce the risk of flu, hospitalization, and death. Protecting yourself against the flu will also save health care resources for the care of COVID-19 patients.

Even if you insist that there’s no way you could possibly get the flu because of how strictly you’re isolating this year, consider these five convincing reasons to get vaccinated for flu.

1. You can’t guarantee you’ll be able to isolate throughout the entire flu season“Life isn’t always what it seems, and sometimes things come up that we don’t anticipate,” says Lynn Ludmer, MD, medical director of rheumatology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “For example, let’s say a patient suddenly develops appendicitis or has a heart attack and needs medical care. They will need to come outside of their secure bubble and won’t have the protection of having had a flu shot.”
2. COVID-19 cases may drop in your region before flu season is overThe future course of COVID-19 is uncertain, but if you start to feel safe to venture out because COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased in your region later in the flu season, you’ll be unprotected against the flu without the flu vaccine. What’s more, if you were to contract the flu, you could be putting yourself at greater risk of getting COVID-19. “Getting the flu could weaken your immunity and increase your susceptibility to COVID-19,” says Dr. Ludmer.3. There’s a chance the flu shot could protect you in future flu seasonsAlthough you need a flu shot each year for the most protection, there may be some form of immunity that carries over to future flu seasons.“The flu shot this year immunizes against four different strains of influenza,” says Dr. Aronoff. “Every year that we get the flu shot, we build up a little bit of memory in our immune system against the flu strains that are included in the vaccine. There may be a cumulative benefit to getting our flu shot year over year to provide protection from strains that may be circulating in the future.”
4. The risk of getting infected with COVID-19 during a trip to get the flu vaccine is fairly lowYou may be weighing the risk of not getting your flu shot with the risk of getting COVID-19 during a trip to your doctor’s office or a pharmacy.“It’s important to remember that just like COVID-19, influenza can be a severe disease, particularly in people who are older or who have compromised immune systems or multiple medical problems,” says Dr. Aronoff. “Given that, it remains the best medical advice to try to stack as many cards in our favor as we can to reduce the likelihood that we will get infected with either SARS-CoV-2 or influenza.”

Here are a few important precautions you can take while getting your flu shot:

  • Call ahead to ask what the off-hours are for a given pharmacy or doctor’s office, and then make an appointment or plan to stop by when it’s the least busy.
  • Ask if it’s possible for you to wait in your car until the flu shot is ready to be administered.
  • Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose the entire time.
  • Maintain a social distance of six feet or more from others whenever possible.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently before, after, and perhaps even during your appointment when possible.
  • Avoid chatting with others in the waiting room.

5. You’ll be protecting yourself and others.For those unexpected moments when you do have to leave your home, if you are vaccinated from flu, you’ll be helping to keep others safe from the flu as well.“By protecting ourselves, we’re also protecting others,” says Dr. Aronoff. “Every year, people have a choice as to whether to get a flu shot or not. My advice as an infectious disease expert is unless a licensed health care professional advises someone against getting a flu shot, we really should get our flu vaccines every year.”

Don’t wait much longer: The CDC recommends that you get your flu shot by the end of October, before influenza spreads in your area. That said, even if you get vaccinated later in the flu season, it will still help to protect you and others around you.

These statements are excerpts from the following article and are in line with CDC Guidelines.
Blessings and health to you,Mary Sophia

Mary Sophia Hawks, BSN, RN, GRN   Parish Nurse