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'Should I Get a Flu Shot During the Pandemic?'

By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNAugust 19, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

With fall right around the corner, no doubt you’ll start seeing “Get your flu shot!” advertisements soon (if you haven’t already).

But this season, with a pandemic in full swing, you might be wondering: Should I really go out and get a flu shot?

My answer is a resounding YES.

A flu shot protects you from getting a severe case of influenza that requires hospitalization. That’s important because many hospitals still need plenty of beds for COVID-19 patients. Also, it’s entirely possible you could get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could be a deadly combination. The last thing we need right now is a flu epidemic on top of the current COVID-19 pandemic – and you can help prevent that scenario by getting vaccinated.

Many people decline the flu vaccine because they believe the shot can make them sick. This is completely false. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. It is scientifically impossible. The flu shot only contains tiny fragments of the influenza virus. These fragments cannot make you sick.

People also have told me they don’t get flu shots because the vaccine is not “100% effective.” It is true that the influenza vaccine does not provide absolute protection against the flu virus. But this argument is like telling a nurse, “My pain is a 10-out-of-10, but that morphine you want to give me will only bring the pain down to a six – not a zero – so there’s no point in my taking it.” Does that make any sense to you?

The flu shot can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do come down with the flu despite getting vaccinated. The flu shot can make your symptoms tolerable and keep you out of the hospital – and who really wants to be hospitalized right now? If that’s not reason enough to get vaccinated, I don’t know what is.

In case you’re wondering, yes, it is safe to go out and get a flu shot, as long as you wear a mask and practice social distancing. America’s two largest pharmacy chains are taking extra precautions with flu shots, including having the pharmacist wear a face mask and disinfecting all surfaces between patients.

I urge everyone to get a flu shot this season. Getting a flu shot can help us avoid a second epidemic this year, while we’re still coping with the first one.



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