Why you need a flu vaccine in 2020

It is more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.

While the flu vaccine is recommended each year for most people six months and older, it’s especially important to get your flu shot this year with COVID-19 in our community. The vaccine is available now and it takes about two weeks to develop protection against the flu. So it’s best to get vaccinated by the end of October – before the flu starts spreading widely throughout our area.

The flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting severely sick from the flu and also decreases your chances of hospitalization or death. So by getting a flu vaccine, you are protecting your health and the health of your family. And in the days of COVID-19, you are doing your part to positively impact the greater community as well.

“It is more important than ever to get a flu shot this year to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources,” said Christine Khong, MD, AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at Prairie Village. “It can help the overall impact of respiratory illnesses in the community and lessen the burden on our health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are very similar and can include fever, cough, fatigue, headache, runny nose and shortness of breath. Testing may be needed to differentiate between the two viruses.

However, one distinct difference is the availability of a vaccine. We are still waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, but the flu vaccine is widely available now and physicians like Dr. Khong want patients to realize the importance of protecting themselves.

“It is possible to get the flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19 at the same time,” said Dr. Khong. “Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.”

At this point, we do not know how common these co-infections will be or the toll they will take on our bodies. Because the flu and COVID-19 target the lungs, some health care experts believe having both viruses at the same time could result in more severe illness.

It’s just another reason to get your flu shot. And in case you are wondering if the flu vaccine might make you more vulnerable to other viruses such as COVID-19? Dr. Khong says there is no current evidence supporting that belief.

To get your flu vaccine, visit your primary care physician at AdventHealth Medical Group or make an online reservation at one of the three Johnson County AdventHealth Centra Care locations by visiting CentraCareKC.com.