Get the Flu Shot, Not the Flu

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Oregon Clinic

It’s more important than ever to get your flu shot.

As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot. Even if you don’t regularly get a shot, this is the year to make it a priority. The highly transmissible Delta variant is already causing a devastating COVID-19 surge across the country and contributing to a shortage of hospital beds. A bad flu season with high numbers of hospitalizations, combined with the virus, could overburden hospitals even more. The flu is already deadly for many of us, especially infants, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions.

“This year, it is especially important to get your influenza vaccine,” says Dr. Rhett Cummings, Pulmonologist at The Oregon Clinic. “Getting vaccinated greatly reduces your chance of severe illness if you become infected with the flu virus. Also, having a co-infection with COVID-19 along with influenza will lead to a more prolonged and serious sickness.”

It is difficult to predict what type of flu will be prominent each year. Flu seasons are unpredictable for a variety of reasons: the timing, severity, and length of the season usually vary from one year to another.

The flu vaccine is slightly different each year. The vaccine inoculates your body against the strands of the flu virus predicted to be most prevalent in the United States that season. Receiving the flu vaccine drastically reduces your chances of getting the flu virus at all, and if you DO get the virus, your symptoms will be less severe and shorter in duration. The flu vaccine reduces ER visits, hospitalizations, and deaths from the flu virus.

Think the flu vaccine is only for the very young or elderly? Think again!

“The flu is a highly infectious disease, and anyone can get it. If our community is well vaccinated, it reduces the spread of the disease for everyone,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bluhm, Pulmonologist at The Oregon Clinic. The CDC recommends the flu shot to anyone over 6 months of age.

So, when should you get your flu shot?

Now. “The vaccine takes a couple of weeks to become fully effective, so don’t wait until the flu virus is in your area. Later in the season, many places run low on the vaccine, so it’s a good idea to get one while they are readily available and in stock,” said Dr. David Hotchkin, Pulmonologist at The Oregon Clinic. If you haven’t already, you can also get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot at the same visit and no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations, according to the CDC. The Oregon Clinic strongly recommends everyone get the COVID-19 vaccine.

For your own health, and for your community, we strongly encourage everyone to get a flu shot this year. We all have a responsibility to protect each other.