In many parts of the U.S., flu season begins in October and peaks in December. As the flu season approaches, health experts warn that the addition of another respiratory illness on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could overburden the health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an estimated 39,000,000 to 56,000,000 reported flu illnesses (with 24,000 to 62,000 deaths) in the U.S. during the 2019 to 2020 season.
Thankfully, a safe and effective vaccine is available each year. Our allergists recommend you get a flu shot every flu season, this year especially. The more people who get a flu shot, the more protected the vulnerable populations will be. Many people are already vulnerable to the coronavirus, so it’s essential that patients receive a flu vaccine so as to not overburden these vulnerable populations.
Increased Risk of Illness During Flu Season
When temperatures begin to drop, people spend more time indoors, making the flu virus and coronavirus more easily spread from person to person. More sneezing and coughing increase the risk of catching both diseases at once. Since the flu and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms, it presents challenges in distinguishing the two viruses.
The flu and coronavirus both target the lungs. If the lungs are damaged by one disease and the other one comes along, this will create more damage. Patients may experience severe asthma symptoms. Those with asthma and other underlying conditions are more susceptible to both the flu and COVID-19. Influenza can also make you more susceptible to infection by other pathogens. In fact, many complications from the flu are due to staphylococcal pneumonia. That’s why it’s important to get your flu shot each year.
Benefits of Getting A Flu Shot
The flu vaccine has been shown to decrease the severity of illness and your risk of being hospitalized. Many people have concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, even if the vaccine does not prevent you from getting the flu, it may make the illness less serious should you get infected. The strains of influenza mutate often and vary in their circulation every year, but the shot is very effective in preparing your body for the flu.
It’s also important to note that the vaccine is not just for you; it is to prevent spreading the virus to others as well. The elderly and young children are most at risk of contracting the virus. Getting your flu shot will help reduce hospital visits everywhere. A surge in COVID-19 cases means that even a mild flu season will overwhelm hospitals. Help out your local hospital by getting your flu shot.
Where to Get Your Flu Shot
NY Allergy & Sinus Centers is currently taking appointments for flu shots at our six allergy centers. Patients should join our waitlist to get the first priority of the vaccine when it becomes available. We advise patients to get the vaccine as soon as possible for protection this flu season. You can also get rapid COVID-19 testing done at our office. Book an appointment online or call 212-461-4699 to learn more about your testing options.