2020 Flu Season - Getting Vaccinated Is More Important than Ever
2020 Flu Season
Getting Vaccinated Is More Important than Ever
This flu season we are not only fighting influenza infection (the flu), we are battling a global pandemic. Currently there is no vaccine that can help protect us from COVID-19, but we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from contracting influenza by getting vaccinated.
Each and every flu season is different. Most years, millions of Americans will become infected with the flu and hundreds can become hospitalized. During the 2018-2019 flu season, it was estimated that 34,200 people in the U.S. lost their lives due to causes that were associated with influenza infection (CDC).
This season in particular, flu vaccination will help to reduce the burden on our immune system. Vaccinating can decrease the number of people who are infected with influenza, thus decreasing the number of people who will need medical assistance due to influenza related illness. Responding to both COVID-19 and influenza related illnesses at the same time may be overwhelming for healthcare facilities. Vaccinating against influenza will also help to save essential medical resources and increase the amount and the quality of care for COVID-19 patients.
Vaccines are made up of small, dead, or altered versions of viruses that we may come into contact with throughout our lives. The vaccine itself is not the protection from a viral infection; instead vaccines offer safe and effective immune reactions to a virus. These reactions help our bodies to naturally develop antibodies that fight against future infection from a live or stronger strain of the same virus. In short, vaccines are a safe and effective way to develop immunity for a virus without having to become sick.
Getting a flu vaccine will help your body prepare for the strains of the flu that are expected to be circulating this coming flu season. Your body will create antibodies in anticipation to fight the virus. Not only will the vaccine help to protect you, but it protects those around you.
Being vaccinated is especially important for those who spend time around groups of people that are considered high risk for severe illness from flu infection. Some groups cannot be vaccinated due to issues like having a compromised or weakened immune system. It is important for others to get vaccinated against viral infection for the health and safety of these individuals. Compromised groups rely on others who are vaccinated not to spread diseases or viral infections to them. If you do not get the flu, you cannot spread it to others.
When you make a decision about when and where to be vaccinated, there are some things to take into consideration. Anyone six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. There are exceptions to this recommendation, specifically for those who have weakened immune systems and cannot be vaccinated themselves.
It is important to remember that the best time to be vaccinated is between the months of September and October. Sticking to this time frame helps to ensure that the vaccine is effective during the time of year when the flu is spreading to the greatest number of people. If and when you decide to get a flu shot, many doctors' offices, pharmacies, and local health departments offer the service. There are a few different kinds of flu vaccines. When choosing one, any licensed and age appropriate vaccine is recommended, and there is no preference of one vaccine over the other. You can find locations near you that offer the flu vaccine at https://vaccinefinder.org/.
COVID-19 and the flu have many of the same signs and symptoms. If you feel you may be sick with either illness, stay home and get tested.