Flu season is coming soon. And since it seems likely that COVID-19 will still be spreading this fall and winter, the two illnesses may occur at the same time.
That's a dangerous possibility health experts want to avoid. It's why it is vital for you and your family to get your flu shots this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for everyone 6 months and older, with rare exceptions. Flu shots are especially important this year for:
Essential workers. This includes healthcare workers and others who offer needed services to the public during the pandemic.
People at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people with certain underlying conditions.
Members of minority groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including Black, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, and Alaska Native people.
People at increased risk for flu complications. This includes infants and young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with chronic conditions.
While the flu and COVID-19 share some symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. So, a flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19. Still, it can help protect you from the flu—or from serious illness if you do get the flu.
When should you get a flu shot?
“Most people should get their flu shot in September or October, according to CDC. That's before the flu starts spreading in most communities but also late enough to last through the worst of the flu season,” says Nupur Verma, MD, HSHS Medical Group family medicine physician.
Children 6 months to 8 years old who have not had a flu shot before need two doses given at least four weeks apart. They should get an early start so they can get the second dose by the end of October.
Ask your doctor what timing is right for your family.
Should I get a flu shot if I have COVID-19?
No. You should wait to get your flu shot until you feel better and your doctor says it's safe to go out.
Will COVID-19 change where I can get my flu shot?
It's possible. You may not be able to get your flu shot at your workplace because of social distancing, for example. But you should still be able to get a shot at your pharmacy or doctor's office.
HSHS Medical Group is now providing flu shots for established patients. Please call your local HSHS Medical Group primary care office to schedule an appointment.