In 2020 and 2021 those have been words used a crazy amount of times and for good reason.
But experts in the medical profession don’t want to people to forget about the tried-and-true flu shot, which hasn’t been getting as much publicity in recent years because of the enormity of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have made COVID and vaccinations a top priority, but the CDC officials have some thoughts on the importance of flu shots as well.
“There are many reasons to get an influenza vaccine each year,” the CDC says on its website. “Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccine [during the pandemic] is even more important than ever.
“Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19 but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the healthcare system and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.”
The CDC says that a flu vaccination can keep people from getting sick with the flu as during 2019-2020 it prevented 7.5 million influenza illnesses and 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations as well as 6,300 deaths.
Also, flu vaccines can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults and older adults.
It’s an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions and can lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease.
It can help protect women during and after pregnancy. It can also lifesaving in children.
Several studies have shown it can reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated, yet still get sick.
Finally, the CDC says it can protect people and the people around them.
One thing the COVID pandemic did in 2020 was reduce the number of people who caught the flu because people were honoring the mandates of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing but experts say people still need the flu shot.
A flu shot just might have a small effect on COVID.
In August, a research article by Susan M Taghioff, Benjamin R. Slsvin, Tripp Holton and Devinder Singh published on the Plos One website concluded that those who received flu shots were less likely to have severe COVID symptoms in a six-month window. The study analyzed close to 75 million patients from all over the world, including the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom.
“Significant findings favoring influenza vaccination mitigating the risk of sepsis, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, emergency department and Intensive Care Unit admissions suggest a potential protective effect that would benefit populations without readily available access to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination,” the study concluded, while adding that more studies are warranted.
There is also a question if people should receive flu shots and COVID vaccinations at the same time. That’s still a little hazy until more research is available.
“For now, I would say the advantage of them together is that if you do get side effects, you will only get them once – one day to suffer through them,” Dr. Andrew Pavia told webmd.com. “Also, it’s one trip to the doctor.
“The potential advantage of separating them is that is how we developed and tested the vaccines. If you do react to them, side effects could be milder but it will be on two separate days. I’m going to get my flu shot as soon as it’s available. If I’m due for a COVID booster at the time, I would probably do them together.”