You should get a flu shot every year (and we’ve been telling you for years), but even if you’ve never gotten one before, this is the year to start. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic makes getting a flu shot so important because it lowers your risk of contracting COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, a potentially deadly combination.
Last year only 45 percent of Americans rolled up their sleeves to get the vaccination, CNN reports. More people getting flu shots this year will help prevent widespread flu cases, helping to minimize strain on health care resources (hospital beds, ventilators) already in use to to deal with COVID-19.
Is It The Flu or Coronavirus?
The flu and COVID-19 share many common symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. People with COVID-19 sometimes have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and sometimes have a loss of taste or smell; people with the flu rarely experience those symptoms.
Knowing you are vaccinated against the flu can help you take steps to determine if you do have COVID-19, especially if you experience any of these symptoms.
In years past, people often got their flu shots at work or at doctor’s office, but with many people working from home, you need to make a plan.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC0 recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October, before the flu begins to spread in your community.
This year, flu shots will be available in doctors office, as well as pharmacies and even supermarkets.
Brookdale ShopRite and ShopRite of Newark are are officially offering flu shots at both stores. The flu shots are administered safely and conveniently by appointment by trained pharmacists and are often free under most insurance plans. Customers do need to call (973-338-4143) to make an appointment ahead of time.
Children and Flu Shots
Everyone 6 months of age and older needs a flu vaccine. Flu vaccines given during pregnancy help protect both the mother and her baby from flu.
The CDC estimates that since 2010, between 7,000 and 28,000 children younger than 5 years old have been hospitalized for flu each year in the U.S.. Children with chronic conditions (asthma, diabetes, and disorders of the brain or nervous system) and children younger than 5 years old (and especially children younger than 2 years old) are more likely to end up in the hospital from flu
In Massachusetts, the state has mandated that all school students must get the flu vaccine.
Children 6 months through 8 years getting a flu vaccine for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of flu vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine. The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.
Children who previously got two doses of flu vaccine (at any time), only need one dose of flu vaccine this season.
Getting your child vaccinated also helps prevent spreading flu to family and friends, including babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine, and older adults who are at greater risk.