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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever-changing landscape of health news.

To Your Health: The Importance of Flu Shots in the Time of COVID-19

As the flu season approaches in the United States, health experts are warning that the addition of another respiratory illness on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could overburden the health care system, strain testing capacity, and increase the risk of catching both diseases at once.

Although the infection fatality rate of flu is roughly 10 times less than that of COVID-19, it still kills 30 to 60,000 Americans every year. However, unlike COVID-19, the flu is a familiar foe, and a safe and effective vaccine is available every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. You should get a shot before flu viruses begin spreading in your community since it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. To be clear, the flu shot can't protect you from COVID-19. But, health authorities are urging people to get the flu vaccine this year especially, to avoid the "twindemic" of influenza and coronavirus.

The only people who shouldn’t get a flu shot right away are people currently being treated for COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 should delay getting their vaccine, not because of any evidence about how the virus affects vaccination, but in order to ensure others in the healthcare setting are not exposed unnecessarily.



Vaccine Finder: https://vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine

Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.
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