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Q: Should I get a flu shot this year?

Absolutely. While we recommend getting the influenza vaccine every flu season, it’s especially important this year. That’s because, while it’s never a good time to get the flu, you really don’t want to get it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you can avoid getting the flu, you’ll reduce the burden on healthcare providers, and help keep resources available for people with serious cases of COVID-19. Every year, people with severe cases of flu end up coming to the doctor or emergency room for care. If people with COVID-19 are being treated in the same area, there's a risk they'll mingle and infect each other. That could make both diseases more dangerous. Getting a flu shot can help reduce the chance of that happening.

Even if you’d normally just ride out the flu at home, you might be more likely to seek help this year. That’s because the symptoms of flu can appear very similar to COVID-19, including fever, chills, muscle ache, fatigue, and cough.

Finally, even though everyone’s attention has been focused on COVID-19, it’s worth remembering that influenza is also a dangerous disease. While most people recover, some people are hospitalized and die from the flu every year. Even if you have a mild case, you could infect someone who’s more vulnerable, like babies, older people, and people with compromised immune systems.

This year’s flu shot should be available starting in mid-September. Don’t forget that you may need to do some extra planning to get your shot this year -- for example, if you usually get the flu shot at work and you’re now working from home, you might need to make an appointment with your doctor. Flu shots are usually available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and many supermarkets.

Chrissy Miller
Employee Health Manager, Maui Health