Why You Should Definitely Get Your Flu Vaccine This Year

Why You Should Definitely Get Your Flu Vaccine This Year

You don’t want to be hit with a double dose of trouble: COVID-19 + the flu.

We are in the middle of a pandemic and the flu season is almost upon us. Yes, things could develop as badly as you might be imagining right now. But they may not, and part of this involves making sure you get your flu shot this season. 

First, let’s look at the positives. With all the social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and hand sanitizing that has been going on, we haven’t just been protecting ourselves against the coronavirus. We have also inadvertently helped to reduce the transmission of other illnesses. In Australia, which is located below the equator and thus just coming out of its winter, there were a greatly reduced number of flu cases this year. (June, July, and August are the country’s coldest months and typically mark its flu season). 

Related: What You Should Know About Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine

According to news reports, by mid-August this year, Australia had just 36 laboratory-confirmed flu deaths, whereas last year there were 383. The drop is dramatic. Experts say it likely has to do with the fact that the country went into its pandemic lock down in March and only started lifting restrictions in May. Many regions including the Melbourne metropolitan area were still in stage three well into July. 

As a result Australia’s health ministry has reported flu and influenza-like illness has been lower than average across the whole country this season. Will the same happen here, in the northern hemisphere? Hopefully. As we move into fall and winter, we will see how things develop.

The danger, of course, lies in having a flu outbreak along with another outburst of COVID-19. So, if you don’t normally get your flu shot, this would be a great time to start. 

“This is the one year you don’t want to miss it,” said Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto to CTVnews. 

Related: 10 Things to Know About Canada’s COVID-19 Tracker App

The thing is, if you were to be infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, it could be extremely hard on your immune system. It could actually prove to be too much. 

Like a potential COVID-19 vaccine, getting your flu vaccine protects you and also those around you. Normally, the flu shot does not guarantee you won’t get the flu but it does a great job of keeping you out of the hospital and preventing you from dying of the flu. 

In a typical flu season, only about 40% of Canadians and 45% of those in the US get their flu shot. A recent national survey done in Canada found that about 57% of people there now say they will likely get the shot this year, a change of mind that likely came about due to increased awareness of health issues during the pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu from between 40% and 60% in the overall population. Invest in yourself and get yours done. 

photo credits: CNK02/Shutterstock.com

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