The crispness of fall is in the air and to New Englanders, this is the signal that it is time to schedule an annual flu vaccination. But this year looks different and you may have heard louder and stronger messaging to get your flu shot, than ever before. The CDC is not is not recommending any change in the timing for flu vaccination, but many physicians are working hard to get the word out for good reason. Influenza can be very serious, especially in older persons or those with chronic illness. Although no one can predict exactly what this upcoming flu season will entail, it will most certainly coincide with cases of COVID-19.
Why is the Flu Vaccine Important?
Influenza is a family of viruses which circulate at higher levels in the late fall, winter and spring. It is very important to get the influenza vaccine every year to reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu. The influenza viruses change every year, so it is difficult to plan ahead and get a perfect match. Each year the exact effectiveness against infection by the strains of “flu” circulating in our region of the world varies from approx. 40-60%. However, even in years when the match to current strains was lower, the influenza vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity of illness for those who do get the flu and
lower the risk of needing to be admitted to a hospital.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been circulating in the U.S. since Late January and there is not a vaccine available for the public yet. The flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19. However, by taking the initiative now to get vaccinated, you will be taking the proactive step you can to not only protect
yourself but also those around you. Reducing your chances of becoming ill from influenza and needing to visit the doctor helps to free up our medical resources to focus on the pandemic and other critical issues. You’ll also be protecting more vulnerable loved ones you are living with, including babies and young children, seniors and those with certain chronic health conditions. Remember that Flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination for optimal protection.
Other Preventative Measures
Preventative measures have hopefully all become second nature for us during these past six months of COVID-19, and they are recommended to help prevent the influenza virus as well.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and limit contact with others as much as possible if you, yourself are ill. Social distancing of 6 feet or more should still be followed.
- Cover coughs and sneezes and throw away the tissue after use. When out in a public setting, wear an appropriate face mask covering over your nose and mouth. Be diligent in washing face coverings after use.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub, with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated or frequently touched.
The senior vaccine or “High Dose” vaccine is being made available to residents of McLean again this year by McLean Home Care & Hospice. Contact your physician with any questions you have so that you can schedule your vaccination appointment this month. Visit McLeaninpiredliving.org for up-to-date information and tips to stay healthy and active during the upcoming months.