Healthcare experts are urging citizens to get the flu shot this year due to fears of a “twindemic” – surging COVID-19 cases and a severe flu season. With a twindemic looming, it is more important than ever to get your flu shot – especially for seniors and children. Getting the flu shot can “blunt the effect of one of those two potential respiratory infections,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

It is important to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. The flu season typically begins at the end of October and peaks between December and February. The flu sickens between nine and 49 million people each year, and sends an average of 200,000 to the hospital annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1

It is also important to stay healthy during the twindemic, protect people who are vulnerable and keep hospitals from being inundated with both flu and COVID-19 patients.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, “Even a mild flu season could stagger hospitals already coping with Covid-19 cases. And though officials don’t know yet what degree of severity to anticipate this year, they are worried large numbers of people could forgo flu shots, increasing the risk of widespread outbreaks.” 

Still not convinced? Here are five myths pertaining to the flu shot:

  1. You can get the flu from the flu vaccine.
    According to the CDC, “flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus.  The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so that they will not cause illness.” 

  2. The flu season will be mild this year.
    Australia’s flu season runs from June to August. This year, they did see fewer flu cases but folks were social distancing, vaccinating and wearing masks. The scenario could be different in the United States because we have colder temperatures.

  3. I once got the vaccine and still got the flu, so the vaccine doesn’t work.
    Several flu viruses are circulating all the time, which is why people may still get the flu despite being vaccinated, since the vaccine is specific to one strain. However, being vaccinated improves the chance of being protected from the flu. This is especially important in stopping the virus from affecting people with vulnerable immune systems.

  4. You don't need to get a flu shot every year.
    The influenza virus changes (mutates) each year. So, getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak.

  5. I am pregnant so I shouldn’t get the flu vaccine.
    Pregnant women should especially get the flu vaccine since their immune systems are weaker than usual. The inactivated flu vaccine is safe at any stage of pregnancy.

There’s really no reason not to get the flu vaccine. Not only is it offered free or low cost in locations across the country, but it will likely keep you healthy and in the process help prevent you from spreading the flu to others. That’s never been more important than today, during the COVID pandemic. If you are hesitant to do it for yourself, do it for those around you.

By Kimberly Perry, DO, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Kindred Healthcare