If you’re wondering whether you really need a flu shot this year, medical experts say the answer is yes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for anyone 6 months old and older.
It’s true that last year’s flu season was exceptionally mild, mostly because the precautions a lot of people took to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also worked to stop the spread of the flu.
People were staying home, and when they did venture out, they were avoiding close contact and wearing masks. They were washing their hands more often.
The numbers were lower also because people were steering clear of doctors’ offices and health clinics. When they did get sick, they stayed home, so a lot of flu cases went undiagnosed and thus unreported.
Now, though, people are getting out more. They’re heading back to work, and they’re just generally spending more time around other people. That makes it more likely that they’ll catch and spread the flu.
What about the COVID vaccine? Won’t that protect you against getting the flu?
The answer is no. The coronavirus and influenza are completely different. A vaccine for one won’t protect you against the other.
Medical experts recommend getting both vaccines. What if you just got a COVID vaccine or a booster shot? Do you have to wait two weeks between vaccines?
The answer, the experts say, is no. Medical experts did initially recommend a 14-day wait between the COVID vaccines and other shots, but they’ve dropped that recommendation.
In their syndicated Dear Doctors column, physicians Eve Glazier and Elizabeth Ko of UCLA Health point out that data collected by British and U.S. researchers found no ill effects when people got both vaccines at the same time. Still, if you want to play it extra safe, they say, you can space your vaccinations by a few weeks.
It is true that flu shots aren’t recommended for everyone. If you have allergies to any of the vaccine ingredients, you should consult your physician before getting a shot. The same goes for anyone who has had Guillain-Barre acute syndrome.
An allergy doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a flu shot, though. It just means you need to be careful about which one you get. Again, medical experts suggest consulting your physician.
Flu season runs from October through May, and the peak is between December and March. It takes about two weeks for your immunity to take effect, so the time to get your shot is now.