(BPT) - After more than 18 months of taking precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the world is slowly reopening — families and friends are reuniting, workers are heading back into the office and children are going back into school. But as the world continues to gradually make progress in fighting COVID-19, it’s important to remember another public health threat lurking — the flu.
Thanks to mask mandates, flu vaccines and social distancing, last year’s flu season saw historically low case numbers.1,2 The timing of flu is difficult to predict and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season. Reduced population immunity due to lack of flu virus activity since March 2020 could result in an early and possibly severe flu season.3
The flu will come back this year, but it is unknown how bad cases will be, how immune systems will react and how COVID-19 and the flu could continue to interact.4,5 That’s why everyone needs to do their part and take the necessary steps to help protect themselves and those around them from the flu.
1) The potential risks of the flu during COVID-19
During a global pandemic, it can be easy to forget about something like the seasonal flu. But the flu can have a severe impact, causing up to 710,000 hospitalizations and 52,000 deaths in America between 2010 and 2020.6
And that could worsen this year — as it’s possible to have both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.3
2) Can you get your flu vaccine with other vaccines, like COVID-19?
In addition to getting vaccinated against COVID-19, flu shots are needed each year to help protect you and your loved ones from the flu and its complications.1
According to the CDC, vaccines, like the annual flu shot, can be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, if you are eligible.7 Please talk to your healthcare provider about what options are right for you.
3) Who needs to get vaccinated
The simple answer? Every eligible American 6 months of age and older, with rare exception, should get their flu shot.8
Anyone can get the flu9 — there are up to 41,000,000 cases in the U.S. each year.6 And certain people are at an increased risk for flu-related complications, including adults 50 years of age and older, young children 6 months and older, pregnant women and people living with chronic health conditions.10,11 These complications can lead to increased hospitalizations and sometimes even death.10
Since the flu is a respiratory disease, it is contagious and transmitted from person to person.12 While not everyone will develop severe symptoms from the flu, it is possible to transmit the flu to people who are at an increased risk of serious illness and flu-related complications.9,12
That’s why it’s important for members of the community to do their part to help protect themselves and their neighbors by getting the flu shot.1
4) Where to get a flu shot
Do you usually get your flu shot at your workplace? You’re not alone. Many businesses across the United States offer their employees the flu shot on site to help protect employees and help prevent the flu from spreading around the workplace. With some offices still operating remotely, many Americans are seeking information on where they can get their flu shot this year.
Help is available. There are flu shots offered at a variety of pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics across the country. If you need help in finding a location near you, you can visit FluShotFridays.com where you’ll be directed for more information.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm#:~:text=An%20annual%20seasonal%20flu%20vaccine,flu%2Drelated%20death%20in%20children. Accessed September 30, 2021.
- World Health Organization. Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2021- 2022 northern hemisphere influenza season. Available at: https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/influenza/202102_recommendation.pdf?sfvrsn=8639f6be_3&download=true. Accessed September 30, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020-2021 Season. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm. Accessed October 12, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm. Accessed September 30, 2021.
- University of Chicago Medicine. Where does the flu come from every year? Available at: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/biological-sciences-articles/where-does-the-flu-come-from-every-year. Accessed September 30, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Burden of Influenza. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html. Accessed October 12, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/covid-19-vaccines-us.html#Coadministration. Accessed October 12, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Who Needs a Flu Vaccine & When. Available here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm#when. Accessed August 18, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza (flu) Flu Symptoms & Complications. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm. Accessed September 30, 2021
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Who Is at High Risk for Flu Complications. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm. Accessed September 30, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States — 2019–2020 Influenza Season. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html. Accessed September 30, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Flu. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html. Accessed September 30, 2021.