Why and When to Get a Flu Shot in 2020

Posted in: Employee Benefits

The spring and summer flew by. Fall is fast approaching, and with it, the risk for contracting influenza will increase. However, this year, things are more complicated since COVID-19 is still around, and its symptoms are very similar to influenza. With both the flu and COVID-19 prevalent, the upcoming season could pose a precarious situation, which makes it more important to get a flu shot this year.

The CDC recommends getting vaccinated in early fall. Health care providers will need to be able to quickly distinguish between the flu and COVID-19. If you are sick with symptoms that relate to either disease but have already received your flu vaccine, it can eliminate the possibility of flu and make diagnosis of COVID-19 easier. The sooner you have a correct diagnosis, the sooner you can receive appropriate care.

Are flu shots safe?

Yes. Flu shots are very safe. Millions of adults receive the vaccine every year. And no, you will not get the flu from the vaccine. The vaccines either contain an inactivated virus (meaning no longer infectious) or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system. The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain a live virus; however, the viruses are changed so that they cannot give you the flu. With this said, you may experience mild side effects, but these side effects are minor compared to contracting the actual flu.

How is the safety of the flu vaccine monitored?

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor the safety of vaccines approved for use in the United States.

Do we need to get a flu shot earlier this year?

According to the CDC, the recommendation on usual timing of vaccination (early fall) still stands. Getting a flu shot in August is too early because it could result in reduced protection against infection later in the flu season, especially for those of advanced age.

While you don’t need to get a flu shot early, make sure you get one. It’s best to be vaccinated in September or October, but if you don’t get a flu shot then, it’s never too late to get the vaccine as long the flu virus is circulating in your community. The reason it’s recommended not to wait until later in the flu season is because the flu shot does not protect you instantaneously. Once you’ve received the vaccine, your body needs about two weeks to develop the desired antibodies.

Is the flu shot covered by my health plan?

Yes, the flu shot is covered fully by your health plan. You can visit your Primary Care Doctor or a freestanding center to receive your vaccine. Check with your insurance carrier for a list of such centers.

In order to do everything in your power to protect yourself and others from the spread of either virus, it’s essential to get a flu shot timely. While we don’t currently have a vaccination available to fight against COVID-19, receiving the flu shot can help rule out the flu and lead to quicker, more accurate COVID-19 diagnoses this fall. If you have questions about the content of this blog, feel free to contact me at dherndon@psafinancial.com. Please also leverage our COVID-19 Business Resources for relevant updates and educational materials regarding the pandemic.

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