This year is notably more important than ever to get your flu shot. Each year, hospitals and doctors’ offices treat thousands of patients with the flu. Our healthcare system and the healthcare heroes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic are relying on all of us to do our part in limiting the spread of the flu just as we are working to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Recently the UW Medicine newsroom sat down with Dr. John Lynch, medical director of infection control and prevention at Harborview Medical Center, to discuss why getting the flu vaccine is so important. Dr. Lynch highlights that getting the flu shot this year will help hospitals save room for COVID-19 patients, if cases rise as expected, and that your flu shot could prevent you from fighting both respiratory viruses.
Ready to get your flu shot? The Whole U is hosting various flu shot clinics across the University of Washington to help UW employees and students protect themselves and our greater community from the flu this year.
With help from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention we’re diving into what you need to know about the flu, the 2020 flu season, and why it’s all of our responsibility to get vaccinated.
What is the flu and when is flu season?
The CDC explains that flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It infects primarily the nose, throat, and sometimes lungs. The flu causes a wide range of mild to severe illnesses and can lead to death when severe.
Flu season is in the fall and winter in the United States, typically peaking between December and February. Flu season can last until May and flu viruses circulate year-round. The best time to get your flu shot is before the end of October. Learn more here.
How does flu spread and how can I protect from it?
The CDC has found that flu typically spreads person to person, mainly by droplets made when someone who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks. Flu virus can also be spread through high touch surfaces.
The first and most important step to protecting against flu viruses is to get a flu vaccine each year. Be sure to wash your hands often with soap, stay home if you are feeling sick, wear a mask to protect yourself and others, cover your cough, and avoid those who are sick (CDC).
The CDC offers many additional recommendations for home, school, and work to prevent the spread of flu. Click here to learn more.
How does the flu vaccine work?
Each year the CDC works hard to determine which strains of the flu are expected to circulate. From these viruses, the flu vaccine (shot) is created. When you get your flu shot, your body develops flu antibodies about two weeks later that protect you from the flu strains that were used to create the vaccine (CDC). Learn more about this year’s flu vaccine.
Where can I get my vaccine?
The Whole U is hosting various flu shot clinics across the University of Washington to help UW employees and students protect themselves and our greater community from the flu this year. Learn more and sign up for yours today.
Additionally, you can get a flu shot at many local pharmacies and your doctor’s office. Even though we are all doing our best to stay home and socially distance, it is still extremely important that you schedule your flu shot as you are able.
What are the benefits of the flu vaccine?
Flu vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and the risk of flu-related death in children (CDC). Getting your flu shot also helps protect those in our communities who cannot get their flu shot for various reasons such as those who are immunocompromised.
What are flu symptoms?
The CDC states that the flu is different from a cold in that it usually comes on suddenly and presents with all or some of the following symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
To protect yourself, your loved ones, and the vulnerable members of our communities, be sure to get vaccinated for the flu this year and every year! It’s a simple task that can make a huge difference. Stay well and be sure to take care of yourself if you develop any symptoms of the flu.
The CDC has a plethora of information about the flu. Learn more and explore the many resources offered.