Each autumn, older adults are encouraged to get a flu shot to protect them from influenza. Because they are more likely to suffer complications from influenza, seniors are one of several populations for which an annual flu shot is strongly encouraged.
However, this is absolutely not a regular autumn or a regular year. We’ve all been mostly isolated at home, wearing masks when we do go out, washing our hands and sanitizing our spaces regularly. These precautions we’ve all been taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 of course also help to prevent the spread of other airborne illnesses, such as the cold and the flu, so one might wonder whether flu shots are even needed this year. On top of that, many older adults might wonder whether the risk of going out in public to get a shot is worse than the risk of getting the flu itself.
With all these questions, it makes sense to look to the experts for their guidance. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is still highly recommending flu shots for older adults this year and is, in fact, saying that they may be more important than ever. There are, however, some suggested modifications for how to receive them. For example, there are several drive-through flu vaccination clinics being offered throughout the region in an attempt to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
While the precautions we are all taking in our daily lives might make it less likely to contract influenza, the common cold, and/or other respiratory illnesses, the flu itself can be deadly to older adults. In fact, each year it is estimated that nearly 60,000 Americans die from the flu. Another factor to consider when contemplating your flu shot this year is that flu and COVID-19 have many similar symptoms and that you can have both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which would presumably make symptoms that much worse. Finally, we’ve all seen hospitals throughout the country become overwhelmed with demand due to COVID-19. The more we can keep people healthy, the better equipped our healthcare system will be to address the emergent needs created by COVID-19.
For more information on where to find a flu shot this autumn, visit www.snohd.org/525/Immunization-Resources. Stay healthy out there!