The Importance of Getting Vaccinated Against the Flu

Ascend Medical is dedicated to preventing flu before the start of flu season, especially because the flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctors visits each year. In fact, during the 2018-2019 flu season, the vaccination prevented an estimated 4.4 million influenza illnesses, 2.3 million influenza-associated medical visits, 58,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 3,500 influenza-associated deaths.

Research by the CDC also suggests additional preventative health benefits unrelated to the flu. For instance, the likelihood that pregnant women who received the flu vaccination might contract flu-associated acute respiratory infections decreased by one-half. In addition, the flu vaccination is an important preventative tool for people with chronic health conditions, such as lung disease and heart disease. Most importantly, studies have shown that the flu vaccination can be lifesaving for children, reducing a child’s risk of being admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit for a flu-related concern by 74%.

How Flu Vaccinations Work

Flu vaccines protect against the influenza strains (usually three or four) that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. To protect against these viruses, the vaccination stimulates antibody production within the vaccinated individual. These antibodies develop for up to two weeks after the vaccination and provide protection against infection.

Why You Need the Flu Shot Every Year

There are two reasons individuals should receive a flu vaccination every year. First, immune protection from a vaccine diminishes over time, so an annual vaccination can provide optimal protection by revitalizing the antibodies that fight against the influenza virus. Second, flu viruses are constantly adapting and mutating. Each year, the flu vaccination is updated to protect against the viruses research suggests will be most common during the upcoming flu season. For best protection, individuals ages 6 months and up should receive a flu vaccine annually.

Why it is Especially Important this Year

“This year, receiving a flu vaccination is more important than ever,” explains Dr. Kristina Bogar, Chief Medical Officer at Ascend Medical.

During the upcoming flu season, with both the flu and COVID-19 circulating, hospitals may face shortages, limiting their ability to care for people who are seriously ill with the flu, COVID-19, or both. In addition, people can get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. While both COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, and coughs, a recent study indicated people who had COVID-19 and influenza B were sicker than those who had COVID-19 alone.

Therefore, individuals who contract influenza this season may also need to be tested for COVID-19, and quarantine until they get the result.

Who Should Not Get a Flu Shot?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive an influenza vaccination, with some exceptions. Factors such as a person’s age, health (and health history), and any allergies to the flu vaccine or it’s components all influence whether an individual should receive an annual flu shot. The following demographics should AVOID receiving a flu vaccination:

  • Children younger than 6 months of age.
  • Individuals with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccination or ingredients within the flu vaccination.
  • Individuals with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS).
  • In addition, individuals 65 years and older may require the adjuvanted and high-dose inactivated vaccine.

Where to Get Your Flu Shot

The flu vaccination is available in many different venues and individuals can check with their doctor or health plan to find local flu vaccine clinics. Vaccines are also available at drug stores, supermarkets, and health clinics. Depending on insurance, the flu vaccine may be free.

Looking for a more immediate solution to getting your seasonal flu vaccination? At Ascend Medical, we’re re-imagining modern healthcare to create a primary care system that revolves around you. We offer membership-based healthcare services, mobile diagnostics, and 24/7, on-demand virtual visits to address all of your health concerns – exactly when and where it’s convenient for you. Book your same day appointment today!

Resources for Inspiration:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/time-for-flu-shots-getting-one-is-more-important-than-ever-2020091720972
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-and-why-you-should-get-a-flu-shot1/