Why get a flu shot in 2020?

September 15, 2020

Flu vaccines are easy to get, inexpensive and have proven to keep a deadly virus at bay

With researchers working around the clock to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, there is another virus vaccine that is easy to get and has proven to create herd immunity and reduce hospitalizations and deaths: the flu vaccine.

The CDC reported that in the 2018-2019 flu season, 49 percent of the U.S. population chose to get a flu shot, which prevented an estimated:

  • 4 million flu illnesses, more than the population Los Angeles.
  • 58,000 flu hospitalizations, about the number of students at Ohio State University.
  • 3,500 flu deaths, equivalent to saving about 10 lives per day over the course of a year.

“The flu shot really is one of the easiest ways to prevent getting the flu,” said Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David Gude. “When I treat patients with flu, I ask them if they have received the vaccine, and many respond that they did not because they thought that the flu shot would give them the flu—which is a myth. But as sick as they feel, they swear they will get a flu shot the following year.”

There are plenty of myths about the flu shot that are medically unwarranted. “Educating patients about the benefits of the vaccine is key,” said Gude. Read more about the myths surrounding flu shots at https://www.texasmedclinic.com/busting-the-flu-shot-myths/.

Influenza or flu is a respiratory, seasonal virus that is spread through respiratory droplets when we cough or sneeze. In the U.S., flu starts in October, peaking in San Antonio, Spring Branch, New Braunfels and Austin in January and February, and ends in April.

During the winter months and around holidays, the flu spreads more quickly due to more people gathering inside due to colder weather and in close proximity to family and friends.

The flu virus changes or mutates every year. Researchers and scientists track the flu in the southern hemisphere, where winter started a few months ago, to determine what types of flu may impact the U.S. the following season. Manufacturers then develop a vaccine to prevent those types of flu.

Flu symptoms such as high fever, cough and body aches will keep you in bed for days and can have serious complications in young children, adults 65 years of age or older, and those with underlying health conditions,” said Gude. “A simple shot can prevent you from feeling this way, so why not get it?”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, here are 4 important reasons to get your flu shot this September and October.  

  1. The flu vaccine protects you from contracting the flu, and/or lessens the symptoms if you do get the flu, reducing complications and hospitalizations.CDC flu vaccine data has shown that flu vaccines have worked to contain the spread of  this deadly virus since the 2003-2004 season. This tracking system helps researchers and manufacturers refine vaccine development. In 2010, the vaccine was 60 percent effective  in containing the virus, or thus creating a herd immunity, a term more people are familiar with due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Herd immunity means there is a resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.
  2. You could contract flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which physicians predict will cause significant respiratory and other health complications.
  3. Flu mutates or changes every year. Because you received a flu shot last year, does not mean it will protect you this year.
  4. The flu shot has minimal side effects.

Texas MedClinic offers both the standard dose flu vaccine and the high dose vaccine recommended for those 65-years or older.

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