It is especially important to receive a flu vaccine this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Influenza season usually starts in early fall, while the COVID-19 virus is still circulating. Getting vaccinated against seasonal flu not only decreases your risk of catching the flu, but also decreases the severity of flu illness and lessens the risk of overwhelming hospitals which are coping with ongoing COVID-19 cases.
Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta, explained, “Everyone should get the flu vaccine to protect themselves, their family, and their community.” Dr. Gupta further emphasized that the flu vaccine is especially important for those at high risk for complications from severe flu such as:
- Children 6 months through 59 months of age
- People 50 years of age and older
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes
- People who have a weakened immune system due to any cause
- Children and adolescents (aged 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving aspirin-or salicylate-containing medications
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- American Indians / Alaska Natives
- Persons who are extremely obese (BMI ≥ 40)
- Those who live with or care for those who are at high risk for complications including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons who are ≤ 5 years of age and adults ≥ 50 years of age
- Household contacts and caregivers of persons with a medical condition that put them at high risk for complications
In addition to getting vaccinated, staying home when you are sick, wearing your face mask, staying socially distanced from others, and practicing good hand hygiene and cough etiquette throughout the season will reduce your chance of getting or spreading the flu.
Talk to your health care provider today about getting your flu vaccine or find a flu vaccine at a pharmacy near you! If you do not have health insurance and need a flu vaccine, call the Onondaga County Health Department at 315.435.2000.
To learn more about the flu, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/.