Two shots at once?
Last year, we had a very mild flu season: A combination of stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, travel restrictions, and other COVID-19 control measures kept flu cases at bay. In fact, there was a 98% decrease in the number of hospitalizations between Oct. 1, 2020 and Jan. 30, 2021 compared to the same time the previous year. That seems like a good thing, right?
While it certainly helped get us through an already difficult time, it may have done us a disservice for this upcoming season. You see, every time we’re exposed to the flu virus, our bodies get a little better fighting it off. But because so many of us didn’t get sick last season, we’re left a little more vulnerable to the flu than in years past.
And researchers believe we’re likely in for a rough flu season – on top of new COVID-19 variants that continue to spread rapidly through our communities. The solution? Get your flu shot. Even better: Get your COVID-19 vaccine (or booster) at the same time. It’s safe, effective and convenient.
The history of the flu shot
Vaccinations against the seasonal flu first became widespread in the U.S. in 1945 – nearly 12 years after the influenza virus had been identified and 27 years since the Spanish Flu swept across the country. Those vaccinations continue to save lives and prevent serious complications. In 2019-2020 alone, the flu vaccine prevented:
- 52 million influenza illnesses
- 69 million doctor’s visits
- 105,000 hospitalizations
- 6,300 deaths
If you’re still on the fence about a flu shot, consider:
- Experts are concerned this flu season could be particularly bad. Natural immunity may be down. Mask mandates and most travel restrictions have been lifted. School and workplaces are shifting back to in-person hours. This combination could lead to an especially busy flu season for health systems already caring for many COVID-19 patients.
- Flu shots are safe and effective. The numbers alone tell the story of how effective flu is at preventing serious illness. The most common side effects — a sore arm and tenderness at the injection site — are worth getting an illness that can cause symptoms for a week or longer.
- Most individuals are eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that almost everyone, ages six months and older, receive an annual flu vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe
The flu vaccine isn’t the only one to consider this fall. If you’ve been hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s okay. Here are a few reasons you can be confident that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and very effective at preventing serious illness:
- 185 million individuals have been vaccinated in the U.S. (a number continues to climb every day). Serious side effects have been very rare, and research continues to prove the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- 34 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given around the world. As more countries and individuals have access to vaccine, that will grow even more.
- The COVID-19 vaccines are effective. Vaccines effectiveness among adults without immunocompromised conditions ranged from 93% to 71%. Those numbers are significant, consider one study found that the flu shot reduced the risk of hospitalization by 41% in a primarily older population.
Save time. Get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at once.
No one likes the idea of getting one shot, let alone two. So why not get it all over with at the same time? After all, the CDC suggests that getting a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time is perfectly safe. You may have two arms sore instead of one, but in just one trip you can be on your way to staying healthy and strong this flu season.
Still, we know it can feel overwhelming to navigate the latest information when it comes to COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. Know that your medical provider and we’re here – right by your side – to guide you to answers, reassurance and peace of mind for your good health.