Why it’s especially important to get a flu shot during the coronavirus pandemic
While medical experts always urge people to get a flu shot, the message is particularly urgent this year with COVID-19’s impact locally, nationally and around the world. This fall, doctors, hospitals and patients will be dealing with two circulating serious (at times fatal) viruses, Influenza and the novel coronavirus.
It is critical for our patients and community members to receive a flu vaccination this year to help prevent a significant number of people from getting the flu, according to Dr. Kate Maxouris, Family Medicine at Swedish Medical Group. And because the flu presents with symptoms similar to COVID-19, if there is less flu circulating in the community, doctors will be more likely to suspect COVID-19 when someone comes in with those symptoms.
A bad flu year can result in a lot of hospitalizations, so health experts are trying to get ahead of capacity issues that could potentially happen this winter. “During severe flu seasons, large numbers of people can be hospitalized with influenza,” said Dr. Maxouris. “With the unexpected nature of COVID and uncertainty with what’s going to happen this fall, if we can decrease the amount of illness we are going to see in one category, it will reduce hospitalizations overall.”
The CDC has said that getting a flu vaccine, in addition to mask wearing and hand hygiene, will be more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare leaders say one of the best ways to avoid hospital overcrowding is to make sure as many people as possible get flu shots this year to avoid more flu hospitalizations.
“Hospitals have only a limited number of nurses, physicians and rooms available, so it’s important that we all do the things we can do to prevent and treat influenza, and that starts with getting a flu shot,” said Bruce McNulty, CMO for Swedish Hospital. “Plus, mask wearing and hand hygiene can contribute to reducing the risk of influenza and other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, which can help keep people healthy and reduce hospital stays.”
Community members can get a flu vaccination shot by visiting a Swedish Primary Care Physician (PCP), visiting one of our Immediate Care Centers (ICC) or our GMP Pharmacy:
Most insurance providers will cover the cost of the flu vaccination. If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, please contact your insurance provider. We also offer out of pocket pricing. If you have questions about financial assistance (and the price of the flu vaccination), please contact our Financial Services Department at 773-989-3841.