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Monday, April 22, 2024

Getting a Flu Vaccine is More Important Now than Ever Before

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Broderick Rhyant, M.D.,
chief physician executive Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor

Flu season is upon us and medical experts are more adamant than ever that we should all receive influenza vaccinations as soon as possible, despite the fact that the flu was nearly non-existent last year throughout the U.S.

The reason for that is, during the most recent flu season, most of us were relegated to staying at home because of the coronavirus sweeping through the nation causing thousands to get seriously ill, and many to die. With our lives opening up again these days in a variety of ways compared to last year, it’s very difficult to predict what is going to happen this flu season, though many experts fear that the numbers may trend upwards again and be closer to what we’ve seen over the past decade, where an average of 36,000 people died from the flu each year.

Medical experts tell us every year about the importance of receiving the influenza vaccine, but unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that only about half of the U.S. population receives an annual flu shot. The bottom line is, according to the CDC, everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins.

Flu vaccines protect everyone from the worst forms of the flu, and although you may still get the illness after a flu shot, your symptoms will be a lot less severe with the vaccine than without it.

Getting the flu vaccine (and the COVID-19 vaccine) is the best way to protect yourself this fall. Those who are unvaccinated are at risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19 and the flu. It is permissible to get a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time, although it’s suggested using a different arm for each.
In addition to scheduling flu shots for yourself and your children, the youngest Americans yet — children ages 5 to 11 — are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

While some parents are apprehensive about getting their children vaccinated, U.S. health officials relied on a Pfizer study of about 3,000 children between 5 and 11, which found that its vaccine was 90.7 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections at least seven days after the second dose.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications. 

Flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines are offered at all Eskenazi Health pharmacies. The vaccines are offered for free to everyone, including non-patients. Vaccines are offered on a walk-in basis during regular pharmacy business hours.

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