Have you had your flu vaccine yet this season? Health experts say not to delay - flu season is officially here, and it could be much worse than last year.
Dr. Drew Oliveira, Senior Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says since last year where cases of the flu dropped to very low levels, more people are getting together, not as locked down, back in the office, traveling, and not wearing masks as much as they once were.
Oliveira says, “We would expect the incidents of the flu would continue to rise, more toward normal levels that we’ve seen in the past,”
He warns of a twin pandemic, with seasonal flu cases and COVID-19 already overwhelming many hospitals. But he says the good news is that “We can do our part to help those people on the front lines by getting vaccinated.”
Symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19 are similar, although COVID will likely be more severe. Oliveira says you can get tested for both, “But really, you should vaccinate for both. And help protect both yourself and the severity of those illnesses.”
He also says this is even more important for families with young children because, “Children are particularly susceptible to the flu, especially under the age of five.”
Oliveira says those over the age of 65 or those with chronic illness are also at high risk.
He says getting vaccinated now is vital because, “It protects you for about five months and that should last through the flu season."
Getting your flu vaccine is also low cost and is typically fully covered by most health plans. It is also easily accessible – you can get one at the doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and even at some workplaces.
“Making sure that you are vaccinated is not only going to help yourself but your family, in reducing their risk, as well as your community and certainly our health care workers,” allowing them to focus on other illnesses and conditions that are not preventable.
Visit vaccines.gov to find a flu vaccine provider near you and schedule an appointment today.