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Why You Should Get the Flu Vaccine in 2020

Why you should get the flu vaccine in 2020

The flu vaccine might seem insignificant with the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, but it’s actually more important now then ever.

Does the flu vaccine offer protection against COVID?

No. Vaccines are very specific. Flu vaccines are made to trigger an antibody response in the body to particular surface proteins on the influenza virus capsule. The coronavirus is a different kind of virus, and doesn’t have the same surface targets as what the flu vaccine triggers antibody production for.

For the same reason, the influenza vaccine doesn’t protect against the common cold (which can actually be from a number of different viruses, including a different form of coronavirus).

Will getting the flu vaccine make you more susceptible to COVID?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the flu vaccine doesn’t increase the risk of getting COVID.

In more general terms, though, vaccines don’t weaken the immune system. Mounting an immune response to a vaccine is like taking your immune system for a short walk, as opposed to the ultra-long distance marathon it might have to run if you come down with a severe infection.

Why is vaccination recommended?

The symptoms of COVID and the flu are very similar. If you get sick with the flu, you’ll be a suspected COVID case and will need to go through your local public health authority’s process, which will probably involve self-isolation. That’s an unnecessary hassle and load on the health care system if it’s an influenza infection that could potentially have been prevented by the vaccine.

It’s also a matter of protecting the more vulnerable people in our communities. The high vulnerability groups are similar for influenza and COVID. The more people who get vaccinated against influenza, the more protected vulnerable people are from an infection risk they really don’t need coming on top of COVID.

The influenza vaccine doesn’t give anywhere near 100% protection. The influenza virus is highly changeable, and there are typically multiple strains active in any given year. But given the risk that COVID poses, any reduction in influenza risk is valuable for the population as a whole.

The CDC recommends: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is important to protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe illness, the healthcare system, and other critical infrastructure.”

The CDC also states that:

The 2020–21 influenza season will coincide with the continued or recurrent circulation of SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus associated with coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]). Influenza vaccination of persons aged ≥6 months to reduce prevalence of illness caused by influenza will reduce symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19. Prevention of and reduction in the severity of influenza illness and reduction of outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions through influenza vaccination also could alleviate stress on the U.S. health care system.

Getting the vaccine

The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October. Certain populations may have specific needs around vaccines; for example, people who are immunocompromised shouldn’t receive live versions of the vaccine.

It’s going to be a major public health undertaking to try to immunize lots of people while at the same time maintaining proper social distancing. I would like to hope all goes smoothly, but that remains to be seen.

The CDC has more information on Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When.

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29 thoughts on “Why You Should Get the Flu Vaccine in 2020”

  1. Done! And pneumonia too. I had round one of the shingles vax as well. Bill Gates will hardly be able to keep track of all the microchips floating in mah veins…

  2. I have a question. If I get the flu shot, and then they come up with a vaccine for coronavirus soon, will my having gotten the flu shot mean that I can’t get the coronavirus vaccine? Or is there no connection at all between how many vaccines you can get shortly after one another?

  3. I got mine back in the middle of September when my local pharmacy started offering them for free. I get one each year because it’s on some check list or other that my insurance has for diabetics..

  4. Great points! I didn’t get the flu vaccine last year and originally didn’t intend on getting it this year either. Then I had to self-isolate due to suspected COVID (I was negative) and changed my mind for the exact reason you state here: COVID and the flu having similar symptoms. I did it mostly for selfish reasons, ie. not wanting to go into isolation again if I can prevent it. I’m not sure when we’ll get the shot here.

  5. In other words, getting the flu shot is a bit like wearing a mask: get it to protect others. (right?) I nearly never get the flu, but could have been a carrier even when I had no symptoms, if I’m reading this right? My god, I really hope I never gave anyone else something I never knew I had! Ok, scheduling my flu shot!

  6. I am one if those that have to have the flu jab. But I received a text to say for my age group, they are expecting the vaccine end of October to mid November. So it’s waiting till available.

    I know from reading that it is advisable to get the flu jab, because you are even more at risk of complications if you happen to get both. But I was nearly going to back out, because its the queuing and that risk I feel I have just by doing that.
    Even though I know roughly what their plans in organising might be from asking the nurse when I was last there and it put me at ease a little. It’s still that fear that what they have in mind, goes the way they may do it, to reduce the risks.

  7. I have had the flu vaccine every year since 2016 and will continue to do so. My husband and eldest son get it for free as they have asthma.

  8. I was wondering at what point you’d be better getting the jab. So it’s recommended by the end of October, which makes your post perfectly timed. In the UK there’s been a huge push to get those eligible for the jab out there getting it done. Then the next day after all the publicity all the GP practices and pharmacies are shutting it down because they don’t have capacity. I’ve had two texts from my GP practice to get mine but I really don’t know. I’ve had two before; one went fine but the next didn’t. Two days later I was so insanely poorly and even though they say the jab can’t ‘give’ you flu, it was very coincidental and the worst flu I’ve ever had. My mother experienced the same and it’s put her off. It’s still a personal decision but I still think if you’re on the fence or vulnerable, get it. xx

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