Each year, flu vaccination plays a major role in protecting individual and community health. Now, with the presence of COVID-19, getting vaccinated for the flu is more important than ever before. While there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, it is crucial to protect your overall health as a preventative measure. Here’s what you need to know about flu vaccination in 2020.
What is the flu?
The flu is an infection that can be caused by several strains of the influenza virus. The influenza virus infects the upper respiratory tract, causing symptoms like coughing, runny nose, fever, headache, and a sore throat.
How serious is the flu in 2020?
The flu varies in severity every year, but for most people, the symptoms are fairly mild. However, the CDC notes that the flu affects millions of people every year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
In 2020, the presence of COVID-19 could make getting the flu more dangerous, due to possible interactions between the two illnesses.
Can the flu make COVID-19 worse?
When your immune system is fighting an infection like the flu, it may be more vulnerable to other illnesses like COVID-19. Dr. Stephen Epner at Physicians Immediate Care says, “It may be possible that people could be infected with both this year, either at the same time or separately. We don’t know if getting the flu might make the illness caused by COVID-19 worse.”
Each infection by itself can cause hospitalizations and even death, so it is prudent to take precautions against them. “Getting the flu vaccine could prevent or reduce the possibility of having to deal with two infections,” Dr. Epner says. He encourages everyone who qualifies for a flu vaccine to get one this season.
How could a severe flu season affect public health in 2020?
Health experts are warning against a possible “twindemic,” where a severe flu season and an increase in COVID-19 cases could happen at the same time. This could overwhelm medical systems, as an increasing number of flu sufferers and COVID-19 patients begin requiring hospital beds and other medical resources.
While there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, it’s essential to do what we can to reduce the respiratory illnesses in the coming months. That includes important preventative measures like keeping a small social bubble, practicing physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and getting your flu shot.
Who should get the flu shot?
With only rare exceptions (such as life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients), annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and up.
Flu vaccination is highly recommended for people with an elevated risk of developing serious complications from the flu or COVID-19. This includes people over the age of 65, children under 5 years old, pregnant women, and anyone with chronic medical conditions like asthma, COPD, diabetes, or heart disease.
Which types of flu vaccines are offered at Physicians Immediate Care?
For people aged 4 and up, Physicians Immediate Care offers a quadrivalent flu vaccine called Flucelvax. This vaccine is completely egg-free and preservative-free, and protects against two types of influenza A and influenza B.
This year, Physicians Immediate Care will be offering the trivalent FLUAD vaccine for people aged 65 and older. The FLUAD vaccine is a standard-dose, inactivated flu vaccine with an adjuvant called MF59. This added ingredient helps cause a stronger immune response to the influenza virus. The FLUAD vaccine has been found to reduce hospitalizations caused by the flu.
You can find more information about our flu vaccines here.
When should I get the flu shot?
You can get your flu shot starting on September 1, 2020 at Physicians Immediate Care. Get your flu shot early to ensure you have immunity before October when the flu season begins. After getting the flu shot, it takes at least two weeks for the body to develop immunity, so we recommend getting your flu shot as early as you can.
Where can I get my flu shot this year?
Physicians Immediate Care is proud to offer flu vaccinations at all of our 40+ clinics in Illinois, Chicagoland, and Indiana. We are open with enhanced health and safety protocols to help ensure you get the care you need. Learn how we’re helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 at our clinics through preventative measures like our curbside care program.
Ready for your flu shot? Find a clinic near you to get started. Reserve a time or walk-in for convenient, dedicated care to help keep you feeling at your best, every day.