Annual Flu and COVID preparedness is similar to what we Texans do to prepare for hurricane season. Most importantly, we must revisit annual Flu and COVID immunizations as we approach winter. In today’s interconnected world, infectious diseases spread rapidly, posing significant threats to global health and well-being. Two viruses that have recently taken center stage are the influenza virus and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). These highly contagious illnesses have caused significant morbidity and mortality, underscoring the importance of annual flu and COVID immunizations. Vaccination remains one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to protect ourselves, our communities from these relentless diseases.
Though vaccine effectiveness (VE) varies, recent research indicates that influenza vaccination lowers the risk of influenza disease in the general population by 40% to 60% during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to those used to produce flu vaccines. Current flu vaccinations generally give less protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses and are more effective against influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses. (Mayo Clinic)
It’s About Being Prepared
The seasonal flu vaccine is developed far in advance of flu season. Based on thorough study and observation into which strains would be most prevalent throughout the forthcoming season, the viruses utilized in the vaccine. After receiving the flu vaccination, your body needs two weeks to produce the protective antibodies. It’s crucial to keep in mind that you’re still susceptible to getting the flu during this time. You need to be exceptionally watchful to maintain proper hygiene, try not to touch your nose or mouth whenever possible, and avoid crowds if the virus is spreading in your neighborhood. While COVID-19 is still a concern, these steps are far more crucial.
Over time, your body’s resistance to the flu weakens. Whether you’ve had the flu or a vaccine, this holds true. The influenza virus is also evolving regularly. As a result, you could not be protected by the upcoming flu season by a vaccine from the previous flu season. Getting the seasonal flu shot should, in general, assist in protecting you for the duration of the current flu season. For the best defense against influenza viruses, you should strongly consider a seasonal influenza vaccination each year. (Seladi-Schulman)
Benefits of Flu Immunizations
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 thousands of deaths. Here are some benefits of annual flu immunizations:
- You may avoid contracting the flu by getting vaccinated. Each year, the flu vaccination avoids millions of illnesses and medical visits connected to the flu. For instance, flu vaccine avoided an estimated 7.5 million influenza infections, 3.7 million influenza-related doctor visits, 105,000 influenza-related hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-related fatalities during the 2019–2020 flu season, the flu season before the COVID–19 pandemic.
- It may reduce the severity of sickness. According to a 2021 research, persons hospitalized with the flu who had received the vaccine had a 26% reduced chance of being admitted to the critical care unit (ICU) and a 31% lower risk of passing away from the illness.
- Pregnant women who receive an influenza vaccine are protected from the virus both before and after delivery as well as throughout the first few months of the baby’s life. According to a 2013 research, immunization during the flu seasons of 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 slashed the risk of flu-related acute respiratory illness in pregnant women in half.
- The flu vaccine can save a child’s life. 2022 research found that children’s risk of severe, life-threatening influenza was decreased by 75% with immunization.
- Being immunized yourself can help protect those around you. You can help those around you, especially those who are more susceptible to serious flu sickness, such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with certain chronic health issues.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Getting annual flu and COVID immunizations is a personal choice, but knowing the risks of not getting vaccinated is our responsibility towards ourselves, our families, and our communities. Vaccinations protect us from debilitating illnesses, prevent the strain on healthcare systems, and foster economic resilience. Additionally, they help build herd immunity, ensuring that vulnerable individuals are shielded from severe infections.
We are embracing the power of science and prioritizing public health by getting vaccinated. Doing so can collectively create a healthier, safer environment for all. Remember, our small act of getting immunized can make a difference in the battle against infectious diseases. To learn more about immunizations, contact your doctor or PCP.
When to Go to the ER
If you have flu or COVID symptoms, with fever and cough, or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical care – especially if you are immunocompromised, elderly or have preexisting comorbidities.
Our facility offers a one-test PCR BioFire RP2.1 Panel which tests for 22 different respiratory pathogens. This test, available in our ER, is administered and results are available in as soon as 45 minutes. You can register online here for added convenience.
“Flu Shot: Your Best Bet for Avoiding Influenza.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 Oct. 2022, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000.
“Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do Flu Vaccines Work?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Feb. 2023, www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm#:~:text=During%20seasons%20when%20flu%20vaccine,by%2040%25%20to%2060%25.
Seladi-Schulman, Jill. “How Long Does the Flu Shot Last? When Should You Get Yours?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 9 May 2023, www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/how-long-does-flu-shot-last#how-long-it-lasts.