This year, we face the unprecedented situation of not only preparing for flu season, but also continuing to protect ourselves against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On its own, seasonal influenza is a significant health risk responsible for between 24,000-60,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. And, we continue to see mounting COVID-19 infections and related deaths, with fears of a second wave taking place as flu season reaches its peak. The flu weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Having the flu could lessen your ability to fight off or recover from COVID-19. It is more important than ever to reduce any risk to good health—and that includes getting the annual flu shot. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your family and getting a flu shot this year.
When Should I Get My Flu Shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), September and October are the best months to get a flu shot. Remember, flu season carries over into the next year. So, the vaccination you get now will protect you through to the early part of next year. For maximum protection, the best time to get your flu shot for the 2020-2021 season is this fall.
Will Wearing a Mask Help Protect Me Against the Flu?
Wearing a mask or face covering is not a substitute for getting your flu shot. However, experts agree that the steps we’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will also deter spread of the flu. So, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing will help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, as well as reinforce flu prevention efforts.
Is the Flu Shot Different This Year?
This year’s vaccine was updated to include a special shot for adults over 65 years old, designed to protect them against four different flu strains. The shot is also updated to protect everyone from the different versions of the flu that are expected to circulate in the U.S. this season.
What About My Allergies?
Although some flu vaccines are made with eggs, an egg-free vaccine is available for those with allergies. You can also request the nasal version of the vaccine if you have an aversion to needles.
It’s so important for your health and the health of your loved ones to get the annual flu shot. Schedule a flu shot as soon as you can or if you already have a doctor’s visit planned, ask about getting the flu shot at your appointment.