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September 14, 2020

Why it’s Crucial to Get Your Flu Shot in 2020

Why it’s Crucial to Get Your Flu Shot in 2020

2020 has taught us a lot of lessons. One major lesson being the importance of maintaining good health for yourself, your family and those around you. That is why it is especially important to get your flu shot this year to protect yourself from the disease.

“With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more crucial this year to get your annual flu vaccine,” said IU Health family medicine physician, Mecca Maxey-Smartt, MD.

“The flu vaccine does not cause the flu,” she added. “However, you can get both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time or in the same season, which could have a disastrous impact on your health.”

What is the flu?

Influenza – or the flu – is a contagious and potentially serious respiratory illnesses that can lead to serious complications. The widespread disease shares several of the same symptoms as COVID-19, including:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

While both diseases share similarities, change in or loss of taste or smell is a symptom unique to COVID-19. If this overlapping list of symptoms is worrisome to you, remember a key differentiator is that there is a vaccine to protect you from the flu.

Getting a flu shot may not make you completely immune from getting sick, but it can significantly lessen the severity of your symptoms. This reduces the likelihood of needing to take a trip to the hospital, allowing healthcare systems to conserve resources.

Who should get a flu shot?

As flu season quickly approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older to get the annual flu vaccination. Vaccination is especially important for groups that are more vulnerable to serious complications from the flu, including those who are:

  • Pregnant
  • Adults 65 and older
  • Young children between 6 months and 8 years
  • Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions

Nearly everyone benefits from getting a flu shot with exception to those under 6 months old and those with severe allergies to any ingredient in the vaccine. If you have any concerns regarding why you might not be a good candidate for the vaccine, consult with your doctor.

Can the flu shot make you sick?

Some people are hesitant to get flu shot for fear that it will result in negative side effects. The shot and nasal spray can cause side effects for some, but they are mild and quickly subside.

Some people do report experiencing a low-grade fever, aches, soreness or swelling at the site of the vaccine injection. Side effects of the nasal spray can include running nose, headache, or sore throat. Side effects for both the shot and the nasal spray are not dangerous.

Another misconception is that the vaccine will give the flu. The vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Since the shot is made with inactivated viruses and the nasal spray contains living weakened viruses, they’re designed to protect you, not infect you.

How long does the flu shot last?

It’s also important to note that even if you got vaccinated last year, you are not immune from the flu this year. The virus evolves quickly. The current vaccine protects you from the new strain and strengthens your antibody levels that have declined over time.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that you get a flu vaccine to prevent yourself from getting sick from both contagious viruses.

Where can you get a flu shot?

At IU Health, we take pride in providing convenient care close to home – and flu shots are no exception. Prioritize your health and schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, visit an Urgent Care or stop by a local retail pharmacy.

“We all want to return to some level of “normal” in our lives as soon as possible and limiting the impact of influenza this season is a critical part of that process,” said Smartt. “Improve your chances of a healthy fall and winter by protecting yourself and your loved ones from the flu.”

Additional Resources

Learn more about navigating flu shots during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Frequently Asked Flu Questions page.

Schedule a Flu Shot Today

Protect yourself and others during flu season by getting your annual vaccination at one of our many IU Health locations.

Find a Location Near You
Schedule a Flu Shot Today

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