Reviewed by Jared Eddy, MD (Septemer 25, 2020)
Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jared Eddy, MD, medical director of Infection Control at National Jewish Health in Denver explains why everyone needs to get a flu shot this year.
Jared Eddy, MD: A lot of people don't fully understand the importance of the flu shot because they may be thinking that they're not going to get the flu, or they might only get one mild case, but really beyond protecting yourself from the flu, you're also protecting the people around you and the general population. And it's really important to vaccinate as many people as possible to get up to as much of what we call herd immunity as we can, because the more vulnerable people, the young and the elderly, are also very likely to have bad outcomes from the influenza.
In any given year, anywhere from 12 to 60,000 people will die from the flu. That's a lot of preventable deaths that we can avoid simply by having more healthy, younger people get vaccinated as well. And yet only about 45% of adults who are eligible for flu vaccine get vaccinated.
The flu vaccine will help fight COVID-19 in the very important way that it will prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. We know that when that happens across the world, we have worse outcomes for COVID-19.
In any flu season in the United States, you'll have 150,000, 180,000 hospitalizations. And that's a lot of medical resources, which are being used for influenza, which otherwise could be used to take care of patients with COVID-19 or other serious illnesses.
The effects of the vaccine actually last a long time, for months. So now in the fall is really the perfect time to get vaccinated for the flu.
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