It’s that time of year again. Every fall we share tons of statistics in an effort to convince you to come to the pharmacy for your flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones. So let’s just start there again. According to the CDC, the 2019-2020 flu season was considered “moderate” with 38 million people sick; 18 million visits to a healthcare provider; 400,000 hospitalizations; and 22,000 deaths. Again, those statistics were considered “moderate.”
This year is different. It’s 2020 and EVERYTHING is different! Experts keep warning against a possible “twindemic” this year, an overlap of Covid-19 and flu cases. As if living in this pandemic isn’t hard enough! At the pharmacy, we recognize that we need to be different as well. We’ve taken extra steps this year to ensure that we keep both our patients and our staff healthy during this time.
There are two distinct sides in the vaccine debate. Some people religiously get their flu shot as soon as it is available every fall. Others are anti-vaxxers and decline the vaccination altogether.
Who does that leave? Actually, it leaves a huge population of adults that fall somewhere in between. Many of you are healthy and don’t feel like you need a flu shot. Maybe you’ve had a flu shot in the past and still ended up getting the flu that year. Or maybe you’re just busy and it’s hard to find the time. For whatever reason, getting a flu shot isn’t a priority for you. If any of this sounds familiar, this post is for you. Please keep reading.
So why should you get a flu shot this year? The short answer: Covid-19, but let’s dive deeper.
- An overlap in flu cases with a rise in Covid-19 cases could potentially create a “twindemic.” If this occurs, it will be challenging to distinguish flu symptoms from Covid-19 symptoms. To make that distinction, you would need to be tested. However, the tests that are used for both Covid-19 and influenza testing use the same reagents. A higher demand for both tests at the same time could lead to a shortage in the testing reagents. Getting your flu shot will help your doctor with a diagnosis should such a shortage occur.
- Even more important is the possible overload of the hospitals that could occur if they are forced to care for both sets of patients at once. Why not take every precaution available to try to help prevent this from happening? Any reduction in flu cases could make a huge difference for our hospitals. Getting a flu vaccine is your best shot in prevention.
- Herd immunity occurs when a high percentage of a population is immune to a disease and therefore helps prevent the spread of the disease to those who are more vulnerable. Sure, you’re healthy and perhaps you could even be exposed to the flu and not get sick. However, you could still spread the flu germs to those around you who don’t have your strong immune system. Getting a flu shot prevents the risk of you spreading it on to others who are more vulnerable. You can help protect the very young, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system by getting your flu shot.
If getting a flu shot has not been a priority for you in the past, this is the year that we are asking you to reconsider. It is more important than ever this year that we take every precaution possible to minimize the number of flu cases. Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to do that. You will NOT get the flu from your flu shot. It takes approximately two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body after your flu shot. If you are exposed to the flu during that two-week period you could potentially get the flu, but it would not be from the vaccine. Yet another reason why we recommend getting your flu shot early before the flu hits our area. The best time to get your flu vaccine is right now! Mark it on your calendar and make it a priority. We need all the help we can get this year!
At Byrd-Watson, we make getting your flu shot is easy! It’s also free on most insurance plans. Come by the Pharmacy and we’ll get you in and out quickly, or call us when you arrive and we’ll be happy to come out to your car. Have other concerns? Talk to our staff and we’ll do our best to accommodate your situation.
Keep up the good work everyone and continue to protect yourself and those around you. Wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance, and get your flu shot!
Article by Kim Wieter, PharmD / Pharmacist-in-Charge at Byrd-Watson Pharmacy