Every September, medical professionals remind the public of the importance of a flu shot. This year, they are saying it is more important than ever.
So, in a year, already plagued with a respiratory pandemic, is the flu vaccine necessary? People are wearing masks, social distancing and staying home. Is the threat of influenza really a concern?
Many healthcare experts report it is possible to get coronavirus and influenza simultaneously. Getting a flu vaccination will help prevent the occurrence of a feared, “twindemic.”
While a flu shot cannot prevent COVID-19, there is hope it might help. A preliminary observational study from the Brazilian Ministry of Health, was released in July suggesting that being inoculated against influenza might reduce the mortality risk of coronavirus.
Researchers examined 92,664 COVID-19 patients in Brazil and looked at outcomes in those who received a flu shot in 2020 and those who did not (Brazil’s peak flu season is April to July). The results showed that those who had the flu shot and got sick with COVID-19 were 17 percent less likely to die from coronavirus complications.
Because the flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, they have similar symptoms, fever, sore throat and cough. The loss of taste and smell is the difference with COVID-19. However, it is almost impossible to rule out a coronavirus diagnosis without a test.
“In cases of COVID-19, a quarantine is required before returning to school, work or travel,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency. By contrast, with the flu, quarantine is not necessary with the absence of a fever, because the flu is not as severe.
An additional reason, healthcare experts are encouraging people to get a flu shot is to decrease the burden on the health care system that could once again become strained from two respiratory illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year in the U.S. 45 percent of adults received a flu vaccination and 63 percent of children.
Who should get the flu shot? Everyone over the age of 6 months. Those especially vulnerable such as, those over 65 years of age, people with underlying illnesses- asthma and heart disease, pregnant women, caretakers and essential workers.
The best time to get the flu shot is September or October, before the start of flu season.
As a reminder, the flu vaccine is safe for most people. Some experience mild symptoms such as a sore arm, itchy eyes or fatigue after getting a flu shot, but these go away on their own after a couple of days. Every year vaccines undergo rigorous clinical trials reviewed by the U.S. Food Drug and Administration (FDA) before released.