Getting a Flu Shot During the Pandemic
Doing Our Best to Stay Healthy
As we are still amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and may even be approaching a third wave of outbreaks; we are also coming up on the annual flu season. Many health experts are predicting that a potential third wave of COVID-19 cases in addition to the flu could completely cripple our healthcare system resulting in a surge of deaths from COVID-19, the flu, and other health conditions. Additionally, as hospitals become overrun, people seeking emergency care for things other than COVID-19 or the flu (such as heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents) could possibly experience detrimental effects that they would not normally experience due to longer wait times or even the possibility of being turned away.
With the recipe for a perfect storm among us, it is now more important than ever to get the flu shot. Recently, the CDC also reported that it is possible to contract COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. Having both could also increase risk for other lung conditions such as Hospital-acquired Pneumonia.
Unfortunately, national averages for flu vaccine rates have leveled off at around 50%. This is often contributed to the idea that the flu vaccine may cause a slew of adverse effects or a perception that it may not work at all. Although it has been proven time and time again that the flu vaccine does not cause Autism and will not give you the flu; there is also no denying that the flu vaccine may not be as effective as other vaccines. In fact, the flu vaccine is only fully effective about 60% of the time. This is because the vaccine is extremely difficult to formulate to be more effective because Influenza is one of the fastest evolving viruses that circulates the human population.
It may sound discouraging that the flu vaccine has a low effectiveness rate, but like all diseases, there are no precautionary measures that are 100% effective. This is why it is important to combine various precautionary measures with each other to fill in the gaps. For example, we can make up the “40% gap” with the flu vaccine by frequently washing hands, avoiding touching high-touch surfaces, physically distancing from others in areas with low air circulation, and avoiding going out if we feel sick or unwell. At the end of the day, there is no method that is 100% effective in protecting us from the flu or COVID-19, but when combining precautions with each other; we can protect ourselves and our neighbors as best as we can.