Why the flu shot continues to be important this year

Oct 12, 2021


Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Getting the flu shot is essential every year—and continues to be important this year.

Flu will continue to be a factor

Elizabeth Maslow-Najera, MD, infectious disease specialist at Adventist Health Glendale, monitors trends as reported by the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) when informing her patients about actions to take.

"Anyone who's had the flu knows that it can be some of the worst two weeks of your life," Dr. Maslow-Najera says. "The symptoms of COVID have about an 80% overlap with the flu—and you can't tell which virus you have unless you get tested. If people get both infections this year, either at the same time or one right after the other, chances of hospitalization increase and fatality can be a real issue."

As people wear thin on masking and social distancing, they may be more lax in their approach to flu vaccination, something that we don’t want to see take place.

"Nobody knows for sure how bad the flu is going to be," says Dr. Maslow-Najera. "To prepare for fighting illness, I can't think of a reason not to get your flu shot this year."

Other steps you can take to avoid the virus.

Besides getting the flu shot, you can take some additional steps to build your natural immunity, improve your health and avoid catching viruses.

"Vitamin C and D supplements can help," says Dr. Maslow-Najera. "Especially if you are deficient, like so many of us are. Focus on getting exercise and fresh air and watch what you eat. If you smoke or vape, now is the time to stop.”

Understanding vaccines

Dr. Maslow-Najera points out that getting flu-like symptoms after getting the shot does not mean you have the flu. "It's an inactivated vaccine, so you can't get live flu from the shot," she says. "Getting some minor symptoms is actually a cue that the vaccine is working."

COVID can be asymptomatic, but the flu cannot, Dr. Maslow-Najera notes. "But if you are coming down with the flu, you can be contagious the day before you feel sick. Continue to stay six feet apart, wear your mask, and wash your hands often."

Get the latest update from the CDC on the 2021-2022 flu season.

Find a location near you to get your flu shot today.