It’s a Good Time to Get Your Flu Vaccine
While the United States remains focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to also be aware of flu season as we approach winter. Influenza (flu) viruses typically spread in fall and winter, with activity peaking between December and February. Getting vaccinated now can lower your chances of getting the flu.
Flu is a serious disease, caused by influenza viruses, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Every flu season is different, and the substantial health impacts can vary widely from season to season, with some flu seasons being worse than others. Your best defense is vaccination, which provides important protection from flu and its potential complications.
The flu vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provide important benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that during the 2018-19 flu season, vaccination prevented 4.4 million flu illnesses, 58,000 hospitalizations, and 3,500 flu-related deaths.
COVID-19 and Flu
It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will circulate together this fall and winter. The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19. The flu vaccines are approved by the FDA for the prevention of influenza disease, so getting vaccinated can help keep you out of the doctor’s office and preserve health care resources for patients with other diseases and medical conditions, including COVID-19.
The FDA plays a key role in ensuring that safe and effective flu vaccines are available every flu season. Flu viruses are spread by droplets when people infected with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu may also be spread when a person touches a surface or object that has flu viruses on it and then touches their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
It’s best to get immunized early in the flu season.
The CDC recommends that adults and children older than 6 months should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Even if you wait until after October, go get your flu vaccine. It’s still beneficial because it can protect you for the remainder of the flu season. For more information on vaccines, immunization and where to get vaccinated, visit www.vaccines.gov.
If you have already been sick with the flu this season without getting vaccinated, a flu vaccine is still recommended, because the flu vaccine prevents three or four different flu virus strains, depending on which vaccine you receive. Presumably, you were infected with one type of flu virus strain, so the flu vaccine would still offer protection against the flu virus strains that you haven’t already had.