Influenza season is here – a time when hospitals would usually see an increase of patients. Learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact flu season this year and what that means for patients and providers.
For the 2019-2020 flu season, the Center for Disease Control estimated there were 39 to 56 million flu illnesses, 18 to 26 million flu medical visits, and 410,000 to 740,000 flu hospitalizations. This year is not your normal flu season with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise around the U.S. and the world. Matthew Weissenbach, DrPH, CIC, FAPIC, says there is room for optimism however due to measures already being taken to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is it important to curb flu cases this year? Individuals face the risk of contracting both COVID-19 and the flu this year – simultaneously or back-to-back.
Get a flu vaccine
Persons who are able to get a flu vaccine should do so as soon as possible. By getting your vaccine, you reduce your risk of getting sick, help limit community spread, and conserve healthcare resources that are already stretched to the limit. Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, especially essential workers and those at increased risk of severe illness from influenza or COVID-19 such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions. If you are at high risk, it is especially important for you to get a flu vaccine this year.
Although people are understandably wary of contracting COVID-19, there are multiple locations to safely receive your flu vaccine such as your doctor’s office, health departments, and pharmacies. Some locations even offer drive-through vaccinations. These providers are keenly aware of and comply with the CDC guidelines for maintaining a safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.