By Melanie Mouzoon, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.B.M.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, getting your annual flu shot may not be top of mind, but it should be this year. Kelsey-Seybold and other health experts are urging the public to not miss their flu shot this year to help prevent a “twindemic” that could overwhelm our hospitals and communities.
Without a vaccine for COVID-19, there is a real possibility the U.S. could be overtaken by both the pandemic and a severe flu season, something that could be detrimental to both our healthcare system and our economy.
The Flu Shot & COVID-19
With emergency rooms, hospitals, and doctors’ offices already besieged with coronavirus patients and testing, a flu outbreak could mean more stress on the healthcare system. Doctors won’t know which respiratory infection someone has without testing because flu and COVID-19 share symptoms, including fever, cough, headaches, and muscle aches.
According to the CDC, influenza cases reached over 40 million last year, with 740,000 hospitalizations and upwards of 60,000 deaths. More people receiving the flu shot – a safe and proven vaccine – could greatly reduce influenza-related illness and the medical care needed in response to it.
While the flu shot will not prevent COVID-19, coming down with both viruses at the same time could be catastrophic as contracting the flu may make people more susceptible to a harsher case of COVID-19 if they get it.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, getting the flu shot would “at least blunt the effect of one of [the] two potential respiratory infections.”
In the event that you still contract the flu, having had the vaccine can reduce the severity of disease if you are co-infected with another virus. Additionally, getting the flu shot does not increase your risk of getting COVID-19.
The Bottom Line
This season, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting a flu vaccine. This simple action could reduce the burden on the healthcare system, frontline healthcare workers, and our community as a whole.
There are three options for receiving the vaccine:
• The traditional flu shot for those age 6 months and older
• FluMist, a nasal vaccine for those ages 2 to 49
• A high-dose flu shot for those ages 65 and older
Schedule Your Flu Shot
Schedule a flu shot appointment by calling 713-442-0000 or visit Kelsey-seybold.com. You can also log in to your MyKelseyOnline account and schedule your flu vaccination.
Dr. Melanie Mouzoon is the managing physician for Immunization Practices at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.