There are numerous flu viruses which constantly change. Flu vaccines provide protection against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
Flu and COVID-19
One question that is on many minds is whether it makes sense to get a flu shot when there is community spread of COVID-19 in the area. The CDC believes that it is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will be spreading through the 2020-2021 flu season. It recommends that all individuals 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
It is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Some symptoms are similar, which can make it challenging to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Flu vaccination won’t protect you from COVID-19, but it has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
Getting a flu vaccine is recommended even if there is community spread of COVID-19; it is considered an essential part of protecting your health this season. The CDC recommends following guidelines for essential errands and doctor visits. If you are at high risk for flu complications, it is particularly important to get your flu shot to decrease the risk of a severe flu illness. Many individuals who are at higher risk from flu also seem to be at higher risk from COVID-19. This includes:
- Essential workers (healthcare personnel and other critical infrastructure workforce)
- Individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (adults 65+, nursing home residents, long-term care facility residents, individuals with certain underlying medical conditions)
- Individuals at increased risk for serious flu complications (infants, young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults 65+, individuals with certain underlying medical conditions)
Flu Vaccine Options
There are several options for flu vaccinations this season, including standard dose flu shots, shots mad with virus grown in cell culture, recombinant vaccine, and live attenuated influenza vaccine (given by nasal spray). There are also high-dose shots for individuals who are 65 and older, including a quadrivalent high-dose vaccine and a quadrivalent adjuvanted vaccine.
The ideal time to get your flu shot is early in the fall, before flu season begins. If possible, try to get your flu vaccine before the end of October. You can see your doctor or get a flu vaccine at a health department or pharmacy.
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