What You Need To Know
- It's unknown how COVID-19 will impact the 2020 fall flu season
- Health experts say flu shots could be important for keeping hospital rates down
- Flu shots are free through most health insurance policies
It’s still unknown how long it could take for a coronavirus vaccine to be discovered, manufactured, and then distributed, therefor it’s likely the novel coronavirus will still be around as flu season gets underway.
The CDC says there are many benefits to receiving the vaccine under normal circumstances, but with COVID-19 factoring into this flu season, getting the flu shot could help keep crucial health care resources from being stretched even thinner.
According to the CDC, the flu causes anywhere from 140,000 and 960,000 people to be hospitalized in the U.S. each year.
It’s unclear how hospitals would cope with an aggressive flu season after already facing months of strain due to the pandemic.
“There are other respiratory infections that can co-circulate and be tricky to diagnose during flu season, but the outbreaks are minor and not of epidemic proportions, like influenza,” said director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with the American College of Cardiology. “We haven't had a situation with this kind of potential, where we might have two illnesses, one that is of epidemic proportions and the other pandemic, co-circulating at the same time. It's going to be a unique experience… we're really not sure how it will actually play out.”
The CDC recommends that anyone over 6 months old get a flu vaccine before the last few weeks of October because it can take a few weeks for the vaccine to become effective.
The flu season in the U.S. can vary from year to year but usually starts in October and peaks between December and February.
There are several different types of flu vaccine available but the CDC says the effectiveness of a vaccine isn’t determined by what type it is.
Health officials recommend you talk with your doctor or pharmacist to determine which flu vaccine is right for you.