Every year, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges anyone over the age of 6 months to receive a yearly flu shot. Why? While the influenza virus, which circulates in the country from late fall to early spring, is relatively harmless for most people, it can result in serious illness, hospitalization, and even death for others. Older adults, young children, pregnant women, and those with preexisting conditions are most at risk, per the CDC. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year. And, on Thursday the CDC revealed that there is a new and improved vaccine on the market that will hopefully save lives.
The New High-Dose Vaccine Will Protect People 65 and Older
"The 2020–21 influenza season will coincide with the continued or recurrent circulation of SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus associated with coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19])," the CDC wrote in their Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2020–21 Influenza Season.
They explained that getting a flu shot will not only lower your chances of getting the flu—which will reduce symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19‚but will also reduce or prevent the seriousness of the illness and lessen the burden on the healthcare system, including outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions.
They also announced that a high-dose flu shot will be available that will better protect people 65 and older, who the traditional flu shot is less effective for. Instead of guarding against just three strains of influenza, it will protect against four.
As for how flu season will coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC explains that more will be revealed.
"The extent to which SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, will circulate during the 2020–21 influenza season is unknown. However, it is anticipated that SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses will both be active in the United States during the upcoming 2020–21 influenza season," they write.
As a result, "influenza vaccination programs might need to adapt and extend the duration of vaccination campaigns to accommodate stay-at-home orders and social distancing strategies aimed at slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2."
The CDC Recommends Getting Your Flu Shot Now
During a traditional flu season, most people get vaccinated in October. However, due to the pandemic, they encourage considering getting one earlier—as soon as now. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.