Influenza in a Time of COVID
Amanda Bektas, Pharm.D.
“I have been vaccinated, my family has been vaccinated, and everyone on our staff has been too. We would never want to give you the flu so we do everything we can to keep you safe.”
Being able to make a statement like the one above has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to convey how important getting the flu shot is to your patients. Your patients trust you and your judgement and that makes all healthcare providers an important part of protecting our communities from vaccine preventable diseases.
The term “twindemic” has been floating around since earlier this year when healthcare providers and organizations began thinking about the combined risk of flu-season converging with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Even a mild flu season is cause for concern since both influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses that can be especially dangerous for older people and those with underlying conditions. Increased stress on the healthcare system and the potential demand for resources like hospital beds or protective equipment could spike as well, increasing the risk of poor outcomes for those who get sick.
The good news for all of us is that the same simple steps we can all take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 will also work to reduce the spread of the flu. Washing our hands frequently with soap and water, keeping a 6-foot distance between ourselves and others not in our household, avoiding crowded places or events, wearing a mask, and not touching our faces are all effective in reducing the spread of illnesses that are carried by respiratory droplets.
AND there is already a vaccine available for the flu! While the flu shot doesn’t prevent 100% of cases, it can dramatically reduce the number of cases in a community and protect its most vulnerable members who can be at risk of severe illness and death from the flu. Even without the risk of COVID-19, getting the influenza vaccine reduces your risk of being admitted to the ICU or dying if you do get sick.
For more information and answers to FAQs on the 2020-2021 Flu Season you can go to https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm .
Or visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/vax-summary.htm for a brief provider summary.