Do I Still Need a Flu Shot?

Do I Still Need a Flu Shot?

With all of the emphasis on preventing the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, most other illnesses and maladies have been pushed to the side.

However, just as it’s important to take the coronavirus seriously and do all you can to prevent getting infected and spreading it, you also need to care for all other aspects of your health. That includes getting your annual flu shot.

Kimberly Bolling, MD, a compassionate and knowledgeable internist in Bowie, Maryland, is adamant that her patients do all they can to protect their health and the health of their families during this trying time. 

That’s why she advises becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and getting your annual flu shot.

The viruses are different

Although both COVID-19 and the flu are caused by viruses, they’re not caused by the same virus. COVID-19 and its variants come from a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which had never infected humans before the start of the pandemic. In contrast, the flu is caused by influenza viruses.

Both COVID-19 and the flu affect your respiratory system. In fact, a mild COVID infection might be mistaken for the flu, which is why it’s important to be tested when you come down with respiratory symptoms such as:

You can order at-home COVID-19 tests here. If you test positive for COVID-19, be sure to isolate yourself from other members of your household. If you’re having trouble breathing, go to the emergency room right away.

Flu lowers your immunity

If you catch the flu, you’re more susceptible to other infections, including COVID-19. In addition, the flu itself can cause serious symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening, especially in young children and older adults.

When you get your flu shot, you reduce your chances of becoming sick from influenza. Because influenza mutates rapidly, you need a new flu shot every year. 

In the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu vaccine prevented about 7.5 million influenza illnesses.   Getting your flu shot, therefore, reduces the risk that you need to go to the doctor’s office. If you do get sick, your symptoms will be milder.

You can get both shots at once …

If you’re not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or haven’t received your booster shot, you can get your COVID-19 shot and your flu shot at the same time. 

Just be sure they’re administered to different areas of your arm to avoid excessive soreness. 

… Or, get them separately

Although it may be more convenient to get your COVID-19 and flu shots at the same time, if you’ve already been vaccinated against COVID-19, you can get your flu shot at a different time. Also, if you can’t find a practice that administers both at once, it’s perfectly fine to get them on different days.

Flu vaccine helps prevent chronic illness flares

In addition to protecting you against the latest strain of influenza, a flu vaccine may prevent a flare or complication from a chronic disease. For instance, a flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of a cardiac event in women and men who have cardiovascular disease.

If you have a chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a flu vaccine has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of your disease worsening or causing a hospitalization. Even people with diabetes have fewer complications from their disease after a flu shot.

Flu shots save lives

In 2017, a study showed that flu shots significantly reduced a child’s chances of dying from influenza. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children over age 6 months get vaccinated against the flu each year.

Older adults are also less likely to contract the flu or develop severe, life-threatening or life-ending symptoms if they’ve been vaccinated. Even if you feel healthy, getting vaccinated protects you and those you love too.

To book your flu shot, call our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 or request an appointment online.

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