Even though efforts are focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, influenza remains a real danger in Central Indiana this fall and winter. More than 110 Hoosiers died of flu last season.
That's why you should make every effort to get your flu shot. Health care providers, including those practicing at Johnson Memorial Health, are taking precautions to make certain you get your vaccinations safely.
Here are answers to key questions about the flu shot:
What are the benefits of a flu shot?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that - in 2018-2019 -the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 4.4 million influenza illnesses, 2.3 million influenza-associated medical visits, 58,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 3,500 influenza-associated deaths.
During seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, the shot has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor because of the flu by 40 percent to 60 percent.
The flu shot also protects others. The flu is especially dangerous to people with chronic health conditions, babies and older people. Unfortunately, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine and flu continues to cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths.
Several studies support the benefits of the flu vaccine, including:
- Reducing children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admissions by 74% during flu seasons.
- Reducing the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults on average by about 40%.
- Lowering the rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.
- Reducing hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
When is the best time to get one?
Because we don’t know exactly when the flu will strike, getting vaccinated earlier is always better. JMH recommends getting vaccinated as soon as you have time once the vaccine becomes available.
The CDC finalizes recommendations for the flu vaccination in August, and the vaccine is typically available in September. Now that fall is here, get one. There are some predictions that the flu could strike earlier than usual this year.
How often do you need a flu shot?
Nationwide, more than half of adults choose to skip the flu shot each year. Some people still don’t think they need one. They often think getting the flu in the past few years, or last year’s flu shot will protect them. Unfortunately, it won’t. To protect yourself and your loved ones, you should get your flu shot annually.
Will getting the flu shot increase the risk of getting COVID-19?
The answer, according to the CDC, is "Absolutely not." The two diseases are separate, and being immunized for one does not make you more susceptible to the other.
Will getting the flu shot reduce my chances of getting the coronavirus?
No, because they are different diseases that behave differently. An FDA-approved vaccine does not yet exist for the coronavirus, though many are in development.
Why is it so important for everyone to get the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It is more important than ever to protect yourself and others from the flu, not only for you and your household, but for the entire community. If you get sick and have to go to the doctor, your chances of being around someone with COVID-19 are much higher. Also, by lowering the number of flu patients, health care providers can focus their attention and resources on dealing with the pandemic.
If you have questions about where and when to get your flu shot, please contact your Johnson Memorial Health provider or your pharmacy.