Flu Shots are Crucial This Year – Here’s Why
If you’re one of those people who gets their flu shot occasionally — or who never gets it — here’s a reason to sign up early: Public health officials are warning of an impending crisis during the upcoming flu season. Why? The coronavirus is still spreading, putting a strain on healthcare systems. If it’s a bad flu season, the combination of illnesses could create shortages at hospitals.
Plus, having the flu and COVID-19 at the same time – yes, it’s possible — is a dangerous combination. During the 2018-2019 flu season, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 35.5 million Americans got the flu, nearly 500,000 were hospitalized and 34,200 died from it – roughly 17 percent of the number of Americans killed by COVID-19 to date.
Do I have the flu or COVID-19?
Both viruses have some similar symptoms, but treatments are quite different. This means if you skip your flu shot and begin sneezing, coughing and running a fever, it may take your doctor longer to properly diagnose you. This can delay your treatment and make the difference between a couple of days in bed and a couple of weeks in the ICU.
Both viruses raise the risk for serious complications in people with cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease and diabetes. And viruses in general raise the risk for cardiac events. However, the CDC credits flu vaccines with lowering the rates of flu-related hospitalizations among people with chronic lung disease and diabetes. It’s also helped reduce some cardiac events among people with cardiovascular disease.
Now imagine coming down with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. This perfect storm of viruses could wreak havoc on your health.
“The best protection against the flu is a flu shot. Hands down. Epidemiologists attributed flu shots to preventing millions of cases influenza cases each year,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “And they’re accessible and affordable. Talk to your MDVIP-affiliated doctor about getting one.”
The Toll on Our Healthcare System
Every flu season millions of Americans fall ill. This year hospitals, doctor offices and clinics will be dealing with an influx of patients with COVID-19. By mid-September around 7 million Americans had tested positive and more than 375,000 had been hospitalized. The numbers keep rising.
Experts are very concerned that once flu season is in full swing, caring for flu patients along with COVID patients may overwhelm the healthcare system.
Flu symptoms can be severe and appear suddenly, leaving many people to rely on hospital emergency departments (ED) for care. While COVID-19 tends to develop more gradually than influenza, severe symptoms like shortness of breath and high fevers also send people to the ED.
But many EDs work near capacity. And many hospitals don’t have enough beds, causing a delay in admitting patients to the hospital via the ED.
“There is an emergency medicine doctor who described the COVID pandemic as a slow-moving mass casualty incident in the sense that the number of resources needed to handle the situation is overtaxing the system,” Kaminetsky says. “Everyone should do their part to ease the burden on the healthcare system. Focus on personal wellness. Take precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask and disinfecting commonly used surfaces and objects. Get a flu shot. And work with your doctor to help you manage chronic conditions and keep your immune system strong.”
Don’t have a doctor? Consider partnering with MDVIP. MDVIP doctors have the time to work with you to help you develop a personalized wellness program that can focus on strengthening your immune system and controlling chronic conditions. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health »