You may have heard that this year is supposed to be a mild flu season, that the flu vaccine is never 100 percent effective or that it is dangerous to visit a doctor’s office with the presence of COVID-19. While there may be some truth to these statements, they do not outweigh the benefits of getting the flu shot in a year where we’ve all been so greatly impacted by a worldwide pandemic.
Experts have warned that:
- The mixture of flu with COVID-19 cases could overwhelm hospitals.
- Both viruses present with similar symptoms, so patients could be quarantined or isolated by mistake.
- Vulnerable populations take on even higher risk because COVID-19 and flu spread similarly.
- People could catch both viruses at the same time.
Luckily, a widely available and safe vaccine already exists for the flu, but not everyone realizes how much getting their flu shot could mean for the general well-being of others.
Consider these responses to common sentiments:
“It’s supposed to be a mild flu season this year, so I don’t need a shot.”
It’s true, experts are predicting a mild flu season in the U.S. due to several factors—less travel, more mask-wearing and physical distancing. However, it is also very possible for our health system to be overwhelmed with even a mild flu season. Your decision to get vaccinated will significantly reduce strain on the healthcare system and won’t put others, who may have a greater chance of getting sick, unnecessarily at risk.
“The flu vaccine isn’t really that effective.”
The vaccine’s effectiveness cannot be assessed until flu season ends, and efficacy in previous years has no bearing on this year. Even if the vaccine is only 50 percent effective, it’s still going to reduce the severity of symptoms if you happen to get sick.
“With Covid around, the doctor’s office is the last place I want to be.”
Healthcare offices take much more stringent precautions than the general public when protecting against disease. Risk permeates there, like anywhere, but it’s a low risk as long you’re following masking and distancing guidelines.
Now ask yourself, would you be willing to suffer a small inconvenience to make a big difference? With the public health climate reeling from the spread of COVID-19, it’s more important now to get a very easy, very accessible flu shot whether it’s for the essential worker ringing up your groceries or an elderly neighbor or loved one. You could do it for your residence hall, roommates, or for your friends and family. Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy.
So please, plan right now where you will go and when to get your flu shot. Find a pharmacy, clinic, or an outreach like Flu Shot Friday on the WSU Pullman campus to get your vaccine. Brave the notion that your smart, healthy choices can make a difference for your community—whatever your community looks like right now—and take the steps necessary to responsibly prepare for the flu season.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm
University of California San Francisco: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/09/418406/why-covid-19-means-you-need-flu-shot-year