It’s flu season. If you want to avoid getting it, then it’s time to get a flu shot. Yes, you may have read many reasons on the internet why you shouldn’t get one.
They are all wrong.
You need to get a flu shot not only to protect yourself, but also to protect your community. This is true every year and now, with COVID-19 spreading, getting a flu shot is even more important. You can get a flu shot the RedMed clinic, student health, from your primary care physician, or even at your local pharmacy, so there is no excuse for you to skip it!
Here are more reasons you need a flu shot.
Every year the flu shot prevents more than a million cases of the flu, and between 39,000 and 100,000 flu hospitalizations. On top of that, the vaccine reduces the severity of illness in those who do get sick, and prevents between 790,000 and 3.7 million estimated medical visits. With our health systems currently at or over capacity due to the number of coronavirus patients an influx of flu patients could cause a serious crisis.
Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 (fever, cough, and shortness of breath) are very similar. The higher number of people protected against the flu means the lower the number of people with symptoms that could be confused with COVID-19. This means fewer people being tested for the coronavirus, which will reserve our testing capacity. We need all the tests we can in order to identify those who are positive and make them quarantine so the virus does not spread further.
Both the flu and COVID-19 are serious illnesses that can cause severe complications and death. Having both at once, or one after the other puts a person at risk for developing worse illness and more complications and may lead to them requiring a higher level of care.
If you previously had COVID-19, or currently have it now, you still should get a flu shot. However, to protect others you should wait to get your vaccine until your fever and symptoms have resolved or, if you had a positive test with an asymptomatic infection, until you are no longer required to isolate or quarantine.
Even when there isn’t a global pandemic straining our health systems to the breaking point you need to get a flu shot. Some have pointed to the fact that Australia, the first continent each year to see a flu season, has had a mild flu season this year as a reason not to get a shot. Keep in mind that Australia has also had a higher than usual vaccination rate this year and implemented comprehensive restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, likely reducing the number of cases and contributing to the mild flu season. Restrictions in the U.S. and Utah have been less comprehensive and may therefore be less effective at reducing flu cases.