With both the flu and COVID-19 circulating, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.
“Without the proper precautions, the flu has the potential to take an even higher toll than in prior years,” says Dr. William Jackson Epperson, medical director of primary care for Tidelands Health and a family medicine physician at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Prince Creek. “That’s why we are urging everyone to get a flu shot. Even if you have never had a flu shot before, this is the year to do it.”
During the 2018-19 flu season, 35.5 million cases of flu were reported, which resulted in 490,000 hospitalizations and 34,000 deaths. Like COVID-19, some people are at higher risk for severe complications from the flu, including people with weakened immune systems, neurological conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, pregnant women, children under 5 and adults over 65.
Even people who are not in those high-risk groups can experience life-threatening flu symptoms, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends nearly everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.
Here are the five top reasons to get a flu shot this year:
1. Flu shots can reduce symptom confusion
The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 overlap, which can make it more difficult to determine the cause of your illness if you become sick. Receiving a flu shot can help simplify your diagnosis. Flu symptoms include:
Fever and chills
Body aches and fatigue
2. You can get flu and COVID-19 at the same time
It is possible to become ill with both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, which could lead to serious complications.
Both COVID-19 and flu affect the upper respiratory system, but COVID-19 can also attack the body’s blood vessels and interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen to vital organs.
With either illness, patients can face potential lung infections that can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection that can cause organs to shut down and result in death.
3. Flu shots can reduce symptom severity
The flu shot is the best way to prevent yourself from becoming ill with the flu. Even if you do become sick, the flu shot can reduce the severity of your symptoms and your risk for hospitalization.
4. Getting a flu shot could help prevent a ‘twindemic’ surge
Health care providers across the nation are concerned about the possibility of a “twindemic” – a simultaneous surge of COVID-19 and flu cases that could overwhelm hospitals and health care providers. By getting a flu shot and reducing the spread of flu, you can help reduce the likelihood of a twindemic occurring.
“Hospitals have adequate capacity to manage during a normal flu season, but when you add in additional COVID-19 cases, we could find ourselves in a serious situation,” Dr. Epperson says.
5. A flu shot could save your life
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu shots prevented 4.4 million cases of flu, 2.3 million medical visits, 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths during the 2018-2019 flu season.
In short, getting a flu shot can significantly reduce your risk of becoming ill from the virus or developing serious complications.
Getting your flu shot is easy and convenient
Schedule your flu shot today by calling 1-866-TIDELANDS or attend one of our walk-in flu shot clinics. Click here for more information, including times and locations.
It’s important to remember, Dr. Epperson says, that otherwise perfectly healthy people can develop serious flu complications.
“Anyone can develop serious symptoms that require hospitalization,” he says. “Getting a flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself from influenza.” Schedule your flu shot today by calling 1-866-TIDELANDS or attend a walk-in flu shot clinic.And make sure to continue practicing safety precautions such as wearing a mask, washing your hands and practicing social distancing, all of which can also help limit the spread of both the flu and COVID-19.
If you develop flu-like symptoms such as cough, sore throat, body aches or nausea, avoid contact with others and contact your health care provider or 1-866-TIDELANDS.