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By Ashley Gallagher, Assistant Editor
A flu vaccine is especially important this year, as it can prevent a “twindemic” with COVID-19.
Americans who have not yet done so should make plans to get the flu vaccine during National Influenza Vaccination Week, which is held between December 6-13, 2020, according to the California Immunization Coalition.
The recent spike of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases could make a severe flu season more dangerous, as simultaneous respiratory infections can overrun already burdened clinics and hospitals. Public health officials are concerned that recent stay-at-home orders have discouraged people from getting the flu vaccine, either because they are hesitant to go to a medical clinic or that they believe social distancing has made the flu vaccine unnecessary. However, lack of a flu vaccination may cause a “twindemic,” meaning people can get both COVID-19 and the flu.
During the 2019-2020 flu season, vaccinations prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalization and 6300 deaths. Flu shots are especially important for those at a higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including people 65 and older, pregnant woman, and people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
"The flu can be a very serious virus, particularly for the elderly and immune compromised, and even mild cases can result in hospitalizations," said Randy Bergen, MD in a prepared statement. "Because we don't know yet how bad the flu virus will be, and because it peaks at a time when we are seeing COVID-19 cases rise, it is critical for everyone to get a flu vaccination so we do not see a massive and perilous spike of both viruses."
According to Bergen, patients should contact their physicians to see what safety measures are in place to protect patients from COVID-19 during flu vaccination.
Health Officials Stress Importance of Flu Vaccinations Amid the Rise in COVID-19 Cases During National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 6-13) [News Release]. Sacramento, CA; December 9, 2020: California Immunization Coalition.