With the coronavirus outbreak ongoing, and the height of flu season just around the corner, getting the flu vaccine is more key than ever this year. And it’s not just important for personal health; it’s also important for the health of our neighbors and a health-care system overtaxed from a pandemic.
So far, more than seven million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and more than 210,000 have died. And in recent seasons, the flu has led to millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths. Until we have a coronavirus vaccine, getting a flu shot will be one of the best and easiest ways we can soften the combined impact of these two diseases.
The flu vaccine is extremely safe, and although it doesn’t 100 percent protect against the flu, it does lower the risk of contracting it. The vaccine also can make the flu less severe if you do get it.
Keeping flu numbers lower in a community helps reduce strain on hospitals and healthcare providers, which is especially important as cases of both COVID-19 and flu are likely to increase the further into fall and winter we move.
If more people get vaccinated, fewer people overall will need medical care. And fewer people will arrive at doctors’ offices and medical centers who need to be tested to rule out COVID-19, since the two illnesses share some similar symptoms, like fever, chills, headache, cough and fatigue.
Most shots are free if you have insurance. Without insurance, they can cost about $30 to $40, with some types being more expensive. Contact your state or local health department for information on flu shot locations and affordability. Vaccinefinder.org is another good tool for finding flu shots near you.
(Information from Siteman Cancer Center)