Among the many concerns raised by the COVID-19 crisis, one question many people have is whether they should still get their annual flu shot. The 2020-2021 flu season is here, and this is the time of year when many individuals and families visit their doctors, pharmacies and health departments to get vaccinated.
So, should you still get your annual flu shot this year?
The CDC Recommends Getting a Flu Shot During the 2020-2021 Flu Season
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the answer is, “Yes.” In fact, the CDC has stated that it is, “more important than ever,” to get a flu shot during the COVID-19 crisis. There are a number of reasons why, including:
- Due to the spread of COVID-19, the CDC is warning of an elevated risk of influenza-like illness (ILI) during the 2020-2021 flu season.
- Being sick with the flu can compromise your body’s immune system and increase the risk of serious complications if you also get sick with COVID-19.
- The flu and COVID-19 share many of their symptoms, and it may be difficult to distinguish between influenza and COVID-19 until you get tested.
- The more people who get sick with the flu, the less medical resources will be available to treat individuals who get sick with COVID-19.
With regard to the risks associated with a high rate of flu infections during the 2020-2021 flu season, the CDC states: “Ensuring that routine vaccination is maintained or reinitiated during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. . . . For the [2020-2021] influenza season, influenza vaccination will be paramount to reduce the impact of respiratory illnesses in the population and resulting burdens on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The CDC’s Safety Tips for Getting a Flu Shot During the COVID-19 Pandemic
While the CDC is encouraging people to get the annual flu shot, it is also encouraging people to be safe when doing so. To this end, the CDC offers the following safety recommendations:
- “When going to get a flu vaccine, practice everyday preventive actions and follow CDC recommendations for running essential errands.”
- “Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or health department if they are following CDC’s vaccination pandemic guidance.”
- “Vaccination should be deferred (postponed) for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, until they have met the criteria to discontinue their isolation.”
The CDC is also providing specific guidance to health care providers that provide influenza immunizations. For example, in order to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 to flu shot recipients, the CDC suggests that health care providers should:
- Screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival
- Isolate any patients who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19
- Limit and monitor points of entry to their facilities
- Install sneeze guards and other barriers to limit the spread of droplets and avoid physical contact
- Require patients to wear face masks
- Encourage patients to practice good hygiene and cough etiquette
- Ensure all staff follow appropriate safety protocols and procedures
Request an Appointment with Vaccine Lawyer Leah V. Durant
Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is representing clients in claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions about seeking financial compensation for a flu shot-related illness or injury, you can call 202-800-1711 or contact us online to schedule a remote initial consultation.