If you’ve been skipping your flu shots the past few years, now is the time to start getting vaccinated. Unlike the virus that causes COVID-19, influenza has been around for years in various forms. Each year, new vaccines are released to target the strains that you are most likely to contract. As COVID-19 continues to circulate in the United States, it’s more important than ever to minimize the spread of influenza. Here’s why you need to get your flu shot.
There are new vaccines available
Due to influenza’s changing nature, epidemiologists continually research the evolution of this family of viruses. While some strains are more virulent than others, each vaccine is able to ward off those that are most likely to affect a population. Vaccines are adjusted each year depending on the genetics and potency of current influenza viruses. That’s why you need a new shot each year. This year, there are multiple shot options, including two new vaccines for older adults and a nasal spray option.
More vaccinations mean greater herd immunity
Herd immunity occurs when enough individuals in a population are immune to a virus that the overall risk of transmission is minimized. While this can happen after most people are infected, it’s much easier — and safer — to achieve herd immunity through vaccination. Unfortunately, vaccination is not yet available for the virus that causes COVID-19, so herd immunity does not yet exist. However, herd immunity for influenza can happen if all individuals who can be vaccinated get their flu shot. This will decrease the number of people who contract the flu and decrease the strain on healthcare resources.
Avoiding flu helps you stay healthier
Influenza viruses and coronaviruses can cause similar symptoms, some of which can be quite serious. Both can result in hospitalization and even death. By getting your flu shot and practicing COVID-19 preventative measures, you can help keep yourself and your family safe. It is possible to contract both flu and COVID-19 at the same time, and while there is not even data on how these illnesses would interact, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Getting your flu shot is an easy and, often, no-cost way to protect yourself and your family from severe illness. During times when healthcare providers are devoting many resources to treating COVID-19 patients, it’s important to keep yourself healthy and flu-free. In addition, getting vaccinated helps protect vulnerable people in your community from contracting influenza. Be safe and responsible: get your flu shot today.