Why getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever this year

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, making sure your family receives the flu vaccine this year is more important than ever to help prevent a “twindemic” that could overwhelm our hospitals and communities.

“Without a vaccine for COVID-19, there is a real possibility the U.S. could be overtaken by both the pandemic and a severe flu season, something that could be detrimental to both our healthcare system and our economy,” cautions Dr. Sheldon Gaines, a Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Pasadena Clinic.

The Flu Shot & COVID-19
With emergency rooms, hospitals, and doctors’ offices already busy with coronavirus patients and testing, a flu outbreak could mean more stress on the healthcare system. “We won’t know which respiratory infection someone has without testing because flu and COVID-19 share symptoms, including fever, cough, headaches, and muscle aches,” Dr. Gaines explains.

According to the CDC, influenza cases reached over 40 million last year, with 740,000 hospitalizations and upwards of 60,000 deaths. More people receiving the flu vaccine – a safe and proven vaccine – could significantly reduce influenza-related illness and the medical care needed in response to it.

While the flu shot will not prevent COVID-19, coming down with both viruses at the same time could be devastating as contracting the flu may make people more susceptible to a harsher case of COVID-19 if they get it.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, getting the flu vaccine would “at least blunt the effect of one of [the] two potential respiratory infections.”

“In the event that you or a family member still contracts the flu, having had the vaccine may help reduce its severity if co-infected with another virus,” says Dr. Gaines. “Additionally, getting the flu shot does not increase the risk of getting COVID-19.”

The Bottom Line

This season, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the flu vaccine. There are three options for receiving the vaccine:

  • The traditional flu shot for those age 6 months and older
  • FluMist, a nasal vaccine for those ages 2 to 49
  • A high-dose flu shot for those ages 65 and older

Kelsey-Seybold offers the flu vaccine at 24 clinic locations. Schedule your family’s flu vaccination by calling 713-442-0000.

Sheldon Gaines, M.D. Family Medicine Kelsey-Seybold Clinic -Pasadena