COVID-19 has killed more than 183,000 Americans, and officials warn the U.S. could face a “nightmare scenario” this winter if hospitals are crowded with both COVID-19 patients and those suffering from severe effects of influenza. Consequently, health experts stress the importance of receiving a flu shot this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against receiving a flu shot in August, since the effectiveness of the vaccine can wane over time, as reported by Oregon Live. Instead, health officials suggest young, healthy individuals receive their shot in September, while older and more vulnerable populations receive their shot in October.
And while the CDC recommends that individuals receive a shot by the end of October, they note it’s not too late to get one later in the year, stating that the vaccine “can still be beneficial” outside the suggested date. Some experts warn not to wait too long, because of potential vaccine shortages due to overwhelming demand and COVID-19.
Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association, told Oregon Live that getting a flu shot “gives people a sense that there are some things you can control” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Although a flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, it does help doctors differentiate any potential symptoms you may experience—fever, cough, and sore throat—and can also lessen the severity of influenza if you do become ill.
Additionally, receiving a flu shot lessens one’s chances of contracting influenza at the same time as and COVID-19, which is important considering that “no one knows what happens if you get influenza and COVID [simultaneously]” as Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, told reporters this month.
More information on this year’s flu vaccine can be found on the CDC website.
By Jada Krening