Flu Shots in the Year of Covid-19

Does it really matter if I get a flu shot? The short answer is YES !!!!

The flu is dangerous in its own right, hospitalizing and killing tens of thousands of people each year and sidelining millions more for days to weeks. On average, 17 million work days and 38 million school days are missed every year as a result of the flu.
This great article from NPR explains…

Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are often flooded with flu patients during winter months. So getting a flu shot can help prevent those visits — and thereby prevent the co-mingling of flu patients and COVID-19 patients, who can infect each other and spread their viruses to other ER patients.
In most years, some who get the flu would reasonably choose to ride it out, feeling miserable for a week or so says Dr. Steven Pergam, an associate professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. But this year, “even people who never see a doctor for the flu might be prompted to book an appointment or head for the ER if they feel flu-like symptoms coming on,” Pergam says. That’s because the flu and COVID-19 can share many (though not all) symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
“And even if you might only have a few days of feeling poorly,” Pergam says, “transmitting the flu to babies, older people and people with compromised immune systems risks severe illness or death for them.”
Public health experts are also concerned about people having both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. “We don’t know yet whether that could compound either illness, but why take the risk?” says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
“No year is a good year to get the flu, but this year — with COVID-19 also raging — it’s especially bad,” says Mark Thompson, an epidemiologist in the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People who can avoid the flu will help reduce the burden on a U.S. health care system already overwhelmed by COVID-19,” Thompson says.
Flu Facts

  • Flu sickens between 9 – 45 million people in the US each year.
  • Between 140,000 to 800,000 people in the US are hospitalized each year due to Flu.
  • You can infect other people up to 7 days after becoming sick with the flu?
  • The rate of heart attacks increased 10 X 1-3 days after flu infection
  • The flu shot isn’t perfect, but its a whole lot better than not taking it
  • You cannot get the flu from the flu shot – it can make you feel crummy, that is true. But those symptoms come because your immune system is responding to the vaccine, not the flu.
  • There are now several types of flu vaccines that are NOT made in eggs and thus cause less side effects for many people
  • If you take your flu vaccine early (e.g. Aug/Sep), you can get a booster in January if the flu season is particularly bad

5 Reasons to get the new Shingles Vaccine

If you are lucky enough to find this vaccine, there are a number of questions people have about it. The bottom line…benefits are huge and risks are small and short lived.

  1. Shingles is very common – 1 in 3 adults gets it in their lifetime
  2. The new Shingles vaccine protects earlier and lasts longer
  3. The older you are, the worse Shingles can be.
  4. The new shot can be more painful, but not nearly as bad as Shinlges.
  5. Your old Shingles vaccine may not still be protecting you.

Click for more information


What if I never had Chicken Pox? Most people who never visibly had chicken pox actually did get infected and carry the virus, just like those who had known chicken pox. For this reason, CDC recommends vaccinating everyone age 50 and over REGARDLESS of whether they’ve had visible chicken pox.

Can they check my blood to see if I’ve had chicken pox and need the vaccine? An antibody test can be done, but measurable antibody levels often diminish over time. This does not mean we’re not protected. Its just that we cannot measure antibody levels that low with current technology. Because of these limitations of the test, CDC does NOT recommend testing for Chicken Pox antibodies. All people should be vaccinated.

Is this a live vaccine? Can everyone get it? The first Shingles vaccine (Zostavax) was a live vaccine and could not be given to people with an abnormal immune system – e.g. people taking immunosuppressive medications, getting cancer chemo or radiation treatment, have immune deficiency disorders, etc. The new Shingles vaccine (Shingrix) is a killed vaccine and can be given to anyone, regardless of their immune issues.