According to recent recommendations from the CDC, this year it is especially important to get a flu shot because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you and your loved ones have not yet gotten your influenza vaccines, now is the time. The agency says September and October are good months to get your flu shot.
Flu shots are important for a few different reasons. Although the majority of people who come down with the flu experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without needing medical treatment, some people develop serious complications. Sometimes, these complications are deadly. Certain individuals face higher risks for major flu-related complications, like people with chronic health conditions (such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and asthma) and adults 65-years-old and older. CDC data shows that getting a flu vaccine can reduce a person’s chance for going to the doctor for problematic symptoms by 40 to 60%.
Yet another good reason to get a flu vaccine this year is not only to avoid going to the doctor or ER yourself, but also to ensure that lifesaving resources are available for sick people who really need them, like individuals suffering from a serious case of COVID-19. 410,000 Americans were hospitalized for the flu last year alone. The flu vaccine does not guard against COVID-19. Nevertheless, by lowering the number of flu-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths, doctors and other healthcare professionals will be able to better treat patients with COVID-19 who fall ill during the 2020-2021 flu season.
It is especially important that high-risk persons get their flu vaccine to limit the chances of developing serious complications. The CDC estimates that every year since 2010, somewhere between 12,000 and 61,000 have died from the flu. Mild flu symptoms typically present as fever or feeling of feverishness, chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle or body aches, and fatigue. Children may also experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. People who develop more serious complications, however, present with different symptoms and should seek medical care.
The CDC reports that emergency warning signs of the fly to watch out for in children include bluish lips or face, fast breathing or difficulty breathing, chest pain, ribs pulling in with each breath, severe muscular pain, dehydration, seizures, fever above 104 degrees (if the child is less than 12-weeks-old, any fever is considered an emergency), and any worsening of a chronic medical condition. If your child is experiencing any of these potentially emergent warning signs, seek medical care right away.
In adults, flu-related emergency symptoms that you should seek immediate medical attention for include:
Getting a flu vaccination is the best and most effective way to guard against getting the flu. For the 2020-2021 season, the CDC is recommending the use of any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccines. There are different licensed flu vaccines out there, such as the trivalent flu vaccine (designed for people 65-years-old and above), the quadrivalent vaccine, the recombinant vaccine, and the inactivated influenza vaccine.
The CDC recommends that people 6-months-old and older get their flu shot every year. Because certain flu vaccines are designed for particular ages or groups of people, you should discuss which vaccine is best for you or your child directly with a trusted medical professional. Some people should not get flu shots, like infants under 6 months of age and individuals with a severe or life-threatening allergy to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients. To read more of the CDC’s recommendations for getting your flu shot this year, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.
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