Ready for another flu season?
Now that we are coming out of lockdown after more than a year of COVID-19 concerns, we may be better prepared to face the next flu season.
Although we enjoyed very low rates of influenza infection during last year’s flu season – thanks primarily to our new mask-wearing, social distancing practices – this is no time to let down our guards (or our masks).
Experts in England believe the flu may hit us hard this coming fall and winter. They suggest that last year’s low rates of influenza infection have left us more vulnerable to it this year. That’s because every flu season helps those who catch the flu develop some natural immunity, at least to the strains that return the following year. That makes being vaccinated against the flu especially important.1
With the ongoing risk of COVID as new variants emerge, getting your flu shot has some extra bonuses this year. Protecting yourself and your family against influenza infection will lighten the load on our already strained healthcare system.
The CDC reports that in the United States, “influenza vaccination prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths due to influenza during the 2019-2020 season.”
Because people who catch the flu despite being vaccinated are much less likely to become severely ill, you are less likely to need to see your doctor or be hospitalized. This is especially important for people at risk of more severe illness from influenza due to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.2
Furthermore, those who are at greater risk of catching the flu appear to also be more likely to catch COVID-19. And recent research suggests that the boost our natural immune system gets from the flu vaccine may help reduce the risks of having serious health problems that have been associated with COVID- 19 infection.3
In a study of nearly 75,000 people who had COVID-19, compared with people who had received the flu vaccine, those who had not been vaccinated and caught COVID were about 50% more likely to have a stroke, about 40% more likely to develop blood clots in veins deep in the body, often the legs, and 36% to 45% more likely to have sepsis, a rapid chain reaction triggered by an infection that can be life-threatening.3
Make sure your home has a reasonable supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare foods. Disinfect commonly-used surfaces like door knobs and remote controls daily.
Of course, check your supply of medications to fight cold and flu symptoms! We all want to avoid having to hit the drug store when we’re coming down with something infectious like the flu. Knowing that you have a working thermometer and enough medications to relieve pain, reduce fever and soothe a sore throat or cough may at least offer peace of mind.4
Do your part to avoid a tough flu season by getting vaccinated early! Now is the time to have your flu shot.
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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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