The importance of the flu shot this year

In a year like no other, the flu shot is a must in 2020.

Though COVID-19 has only been present in the U.S. for about eight months, it has already left behind a trail of wreckage with 14.2 million cases and over 276,000+ deaths. As we approach flu season, the addition of another respiratory illness could pose another serious threat to the country. The harm that these two outbreaks could bring to our population if the two were to exist simultaneously is beyond disastrous. The flu shot is our best and only chance at protecting ourselves and keeping loved ones healthy. 

According to the CDC, the coronavirus and influenza are both respiratory viruses, meaning that they will both infect and attack the lungs and the respiratory tract. The symptoms between the two illnesses are so similar that it is often hard to tell the difference between the two diseases from the symptoms alone. COVID-19 tests may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis, leading to a shortage of tests available. 

While there is currently not a COVID-19 vaccine available to prevent yourself from being infected, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself this season. Getting a flu shot to prevent an infection from influenza would limit unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office, where close contact with COVID-19 patients is a possibility. As reported by the CDC, flu season is normally at its worst from December to February, where 9.3 million to 45 million illnesses occur in this country every year. Those who are at high risk for the coronavirus, including people over the age of 65 or people with underlying health conditions are also at high risk for the flu. The flu vaccine is the only solution to protecting high-risk individuals and reducing the prevalence of flu in our community.

While many may believe that social distancing and the use of masks may prevent them from getting the coronavirus, getting a flu shot would still be your best bet at not getting sick. It only takes an instant of carelessness to get sick and put others at risk. As the weather gets colder and activities move indoors, the transmission will increase. The risk will also be increased for essential workers and others who do not have the luxury of being able to stay home. Given the current state of our health care system, even a mild flu season may be enough to overburden the workers in the ICU. 

It only takes an instant of carelessness to get sick and put others at risk.”

— Maggie Huang

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies each year, depending on how accurately the developers estimated the strains of influenza. As stated by the CDC, flu vaccination will typically reduce the risk of flu illness by about 40 percent to 60 percent. Getting a flu vaccine will also lower the severity of the disease if you do get infected, and reduce the number of people who need to be hospitalized. This will help doctors better help others in need and manage the pandemic.

While some may argue that the vaccine contains harmful chemicals that may lead to serious diseases, it is important to understand that this is just a false theory. The components of flu vaccines have been studied substantially and vetted by the CDC and the FDA. Their data presents overwhelming evidence that such vaccines are both safe and effective. Receiving the flu vaccine is especially significant this year as not doing so would put you and others at a greater risk for both the flu and the coronavirus.