COVID-19 has affected the world for nearly two years now. It can be challenging to picture life before the masks and the vaccines, but until the virus is eradicated, you should do everything in your power to keep yourself and others safe.
Getting your annual flu shot is a must. Influenza mutates from year to year, so even if you received last year’s vaccine, you should get the one that’s optimized for this year’s strains, too. Since COVID-19 is still prevalent, it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot even if you’ve had your COVID-19 vaccine.
The History of the Flu Shot
The flu shot isn’t anything new. It’s been around much longer than most people realize and has an incredible history. In 1945, the influenza vaccine was first authorized for use in regular civilians. It’s come a long way in its development since then, even going so far as to permit the nasal spray version for use in most people in 2003.
The nasal spray is an alternative to the injection, which can work great for people who have an aversion to needles. Unlike the vaccine, which has dead virus particles, the nasal spray has the active virus, though it’s been weakened to the point that you can’t receive a breakthrough infection from it. Think of these particles as test dummies for your immune system to learn from so it knows how best to respond to the virus later on if you reencounter it.
New flu vaccines are released every year because influenza mutates rapidly. These new vaccines are made in anticipation of which strains will be the most prevalent for the season. There are many variations of these inoculations, even those for people with egg allergies, and which one you opt for could depend on several factors. Whatever you choose, the most important thing is that you get the flu shot.
How the Flu Shot Can Help
Getting your flu vaccine annually is essential. Without it, you risk falling ill and, unfortunately, death. Every year, there are around 45 million cases of influenza, with as many as 60,000 deaths. Getting the flu shot can keep you alive, but it can also help you in several other ways.
It Can Keep You Out of the Hospital
Since COVID-19 and the flu affect the respiratory system, having both at the same time could be fatal. If you’re not vaccinated against COVID-19, you should at least get your flu shot to give you some level of protection this season.
The flu vaccine has gone through many changes since 1945, but it’s rung true that even healthy people can get the flu. Having the vaccine for the most prevalent strain this year can help you fight it and limit the chance of getting a severe enough case to land you in the hospital.
It Can Help Those at Risk
In keeping you out of the hospital by being prepared for these dangerous strains, you can free up space for someone else who is more at risk. Because anyone with the flu will have to share hospital space with COVID-19 patients, hospitals may see overcapacity again. By getting your flu shot, you’re freeing up room for those who need intensive treatment.
It Can Protect the People Around You
Getting vaccinated against the flu means you’re also helping people who can’t get the vaccine for themselves due to allergies or other reasons. You obtaining your flu shot means there’s a stronger likelihood of building herd immunity or not passing it on to someone else.
If you’re a caretaker, it’s even more vital that you get your flu shot so you don’t pose a risk to the person you’re caring for. Immunocompromised people might have a more difficult time fighting off the influenza virus, so it’s in their best interest to get the shot if they can. If they can’t, you having protection might help keep them safe, too.
When Is the Best Time to Get the Flu Shot?
Ideally, you should receive a flu shot by the end of October. Flu season typically lasts most of the fall and all winter, though in some cases, it can continue well into spring. It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine if you wait until after October. Some protection is better than none.
Flu shots are typically free, just like the COVID-19 vaccine, or low-cost. If you haven’t gotten either of the vaccines, now is the time to get both to protect yourself and your loved ones from dangerous diseases this winter. It’s completely safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot within the same visit.
Doctor’s offices give out flu shots, but so do local pharmacies. Go to the place that is most convenient for you and ask if they provide the influenza vaccine. You’ll be in and out without any issues. You might feel a little discomfort for a day or two after the shot, but you shouldn’t experience side effects for a long time.
Protect Yourself Through the Winter
Getting this year’s flu vaccine is an excellent way to protect yourself against the most prevalent strain as the year comes to a close. As always, you should pair vaccinations with proper hygiene and personal protection, like washing your hands and wearing a mask. Encourage others to get their flu shot, too, so everyone you know can have a happy and healthy winter.
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