The Other Vaccine You Should Talk to Your Doctor About
It’s probably too early to say if the COVID-19 Pandemic will affect flu vaccination rates this year. For the coming flu season, the CDC recommends everyone older than six months without a conflicting health condition should get a flu vaccine to protect them and the people around them and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the Pandemic.
There remains a good amount of vaccine hesitancy surrounding the flu vaccine, with only about half of adults getting it in an average year. Millennium Physician Group Family Medicine Physician Nektarios Demetriou, D.O., says the recent lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions could lead to an increase in flu cases, making the flu vaccine more important than ever this year. “We’re seeing a group of vaccinated people walking around maskless and not taking as many precautions,” he warns. “The flu is going to sneak in and spread more with all the loosened restrictions.”
In the U.S., flu season can begin as early as October and end as late as May. Dr. Demetriou recommends getting vaccinated late September, early October. “If you do it too early, the vaccine may lose it’s durability by end of flu season and you want it to last all the way through.” Dr. Demetriou also warns you can also get your flu vaccine too late. “It takes two weeks to take effect, so you don’t want to wait too late into the flu season and risk getting infected before you’re protected.”
Loosening restrictions, increased socialization, and resumed travel and gatherings could create the perfect storm for a serious flu season. Lessons learned during the COVID-19 Pandemic should serve us all when it comes to the flu. “Continuing COVID-19 mitigation measures like mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing could be our best method to prevent flu,” says Dr. Demetriou. “It really could save lives.”
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