One of the best things in Utah is the changing of the seasons. But there is one season nobody wants to experience: flu season.
Like it or not, flu season is just around the corner. And like everything else in 2020, it could likely be a little different this year. The good news is that while the world is still waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, influenza is largely preventable with a simple flu shot.
Experts say that an annual flu shot is the best way to keep yourself and others in the community healthy — especially in a year when severe respiratory illness has taken such a heavy toll.
The flu and COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting a flu vaccine will be more important this year than ever.
“Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19,” states the CDC website.
Like the COVID-19 virus, flu viruses are spread through droplets created when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. It’s also possible to get the flu by touching your face after touching an infected surface or object.
The Utah Department of Health states that most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children can be contagious for longer than seven days. And like COVID-19, it’s possible to spread the virus before symptoms are present.
Wearing a mask, washing hands often, and getting a flu vaccine are three simple actions that everyone — especially people at higher risk of developing serious flu complications — should take to reduce the spread of flu and help save medical resources needed to care for people with COVID-19.
Flu shot myths vs. facts
Although getting a flu shot is the best defense against seasonal flu activity, last year, about 40% of Utahn’s chose to get one. Whether you were part of the 40% or not, you’re probably well acquainted with the myriad excuses people offer for not getting the vaccine.
“Every time I get a flu shot, I get the flu.”
“Healthy people don’t need to get one.”
“It doesn’t work.”
The CDC counters these misconceptions by providing factual information.
First, since the vaccine is made with either inactivated or weakened viruses, the shot cannot give you the flu.
Second, any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization, or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Getting vaccinated is safer than risking illness.
Third, although there’s still a possibility of contracting the flu, a shot greatly reduces the chance of severe illness. Getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak.
Protect yourself and others by getting a flu shot
If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that nothing is predictable. So why take a chance with the flu?
By working together, Utahns can significantly lower the effects of flu season by getting a flu shot. Call your doctor, visit a local pharmacy or health clinic, or find a vaccine location near you.
Learn more at InUtah.org/Healthy.