While we still remember the excitement of the very first day of COVID-19 shots at the Brownsville Community Center, we know the pandemic has been a long hard haul and everyone is tired. Yet, many health experts expect this year’s flu season to be a tough one and flu vaccines will be more important than ever. If you still need motivation to get your shot, here are some important things to think about:
You don’t want to get sick.
In 2019-2020, the last flu season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
You don’t want to get as sick if you DO get the flu, anyway.
A 2021 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients had a 26% lower risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and a 31% lower risk of death from flu compared with those who were unvaccinated.
You don’t want to be hospitalized.
Who wants that? Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations.
You have a chronic health condition.
Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who have had a cardiac event in the past year. They also can reduce the risk of worsening chronic lung disease (COPD) and diabetes.
You are expecting a little one.
A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant people from flu, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, when babies are too young to be vaccinated.
You are a little one.
A 2022 study showed that flu vaccination reduced children’s risk of severe life-threatening influenza by 75%.
According to CHNWFL Pediatrician, Dr. Michelle Grier-Hall MD, Children ages 6 months to 8 years old getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously received one dose of flu vaccine, should get two doses of the flu vaccine this season. “These doses should be given four weeks apart,” she says. “It’s best to be vaccinated before the flu season begins in September and October. Ideally, everyone age 6 months and older should be vaccinated by the end of October.”
You’re going to be around your Grandma and your Boo.
Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
Because other people won’t.
Despite the many benefits offered by flu vaccination, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine. During an average flu season, flu can cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Many more people could be protected from flu if more people got vaccinated.
Because Australia had doozy of a flu season.
The Southern Hemisphere has already had their flu season and it was the worst in five years. Public Health officials often look to Australia’s flu season as predicative of what we might face.