In a normal year less than half of Americans are vaccinated against flu, but in the middle of a pandemic it is more imperative than ever that we bring that number up.
2020 has been a historically difficult and tumultuous year. COVID-19 has disrupted many plans this year, but thankfully there’s still time for everyone to plan to protect themselves and their loved ones against flu by getting a vaccine.
We don’t know what type of flu season lies ahead, but we do know that there are many reasons to get a flu vaccine, which is more important this year than ever.
Research shows that a flu vaccine provides several individual health benefits in addition to keeping you from getting sick with flu, including possibly reducing the severity of your illness if you do get sick, and reducing your risk of a flu-associated hospitalization and death.
Flu vaccination is also an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Vaccination can lead to lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, as well as reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease. Some racial and ethnic minority populations who are disproportionately affected by diseases like asthma, diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions, that can increase the risk for becoming seriously ill or dying from flu, can be protected by widespread flu vaccination.
And this season, reducing the burden of flu will also help protect essential workers and preserve medical resources for the care of COVID-19 patients.
During the 2019-2020 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates more than 400,000 people in the United States were hospitalized with flu, and about 22,000 died. Additionally, 195 children were reported to have died from flu, which is the highest recorded number of pediatric flu deaths reported during a regular flu season. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by vaccination, serving as a heartbreaking reminder of the seriousness of flu illness.
While we can’t predict how severe this flu season may be, or what the coming year will bring, less than half of the U.S. population is typically vaccinated against flu, and we can and must do better this year.
CDC recommends flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, and there is still time to get vaccinated. This year, there are many flu vaccine options, all of which have been updated to protect against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. A flu vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from flu and its potentially serious complications. During this time of COVID-19, we need every American to do their part.