While we never know how serious flu season will be, it’s always important to get an annual flu shot. But this year, with the risk of getting COVID-19, it’s even more crucial. For one, since the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are quite similar, it can be difficult to know which virus you have. What’s more, the flu shot can help prevent you from catching both viruses at the same time, which could be quite dangerous.
In fact, according to a 2019–2020 study performed in the Netherlands at Radboud University Medical Center, participants who had gotten the flu shot were 39% less likely to test positive for COVID-19 by June 1 than their coworkers. That’s because in addition to helping prevent the flu, the flu shot may actually strengthen the body’s overall immune system. And even if you do catch the flu, the flu vaccine can reduce the severity of your symptoms.
During last year’s flu season alone, the CDC reports that the flu vaccine was 45% effective, preventing about 4.4 million cases of the flu, 2.3 million flu-related medical visits, 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 flu-related deaths.
Who should get a flu shot?
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) strongly recommends a flu vaccination for everyone six months of age or older. In addition to protecting yourself, you’ll be helping to protect those at higher risk, such as children under five, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions. Plus, you’ll reduce the burden on hospital systems that are threatened with reaching capacity, enabling others who need medical attention the most access to proper care.
When to get the vaccine
Early October is the ideal time to get a flu shot. Since it takes about two weeks to become effective and lasts for about six months, it will help protect you through flu season’s peak, from November through March. Of course, it’s still not too late to your flu shot, so it’ll protect you through a majority of the season.
Where to get the vaccine
You can get your flu shot at a Denver Health clinic, your primary care provider office or any network pharmacy, such as King Soopers, Walgreens, CVS, etc. Try to schedule your appointment as early in the morning as possible (preferably the first appointment of the day). Your provider will be less likely to run late, which means you’ll spend less time in the waiting area. Otherwise, ask what time of day you’re least likely to have to wait — keep in mind, when there are more providers on staff, you’ll get in and out a lot faster.
For your protection, please take the following precautions when getting your flu shot:
- Wear a mask.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others in the waiting area.
- Try to get in and out quickly.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Use hand sanitizer.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds.