Flu Shots and You during COVID-19

October 1, 2020

Each fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges everyone to get the flu vaccine. This year, due to the public health crisis, it’s especially important for adults 65 years or older, who account for 70% to 85% of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths and the majority of COVID-19 related deaths, to get the vaccine.

Research shows that flu shots, or flu vaccinations, reduce infection rates by 50% to 60%.  Among elders (age 65 to 74), in one study, flu vaccinations lowered flu-related hospitalizations by 61%.

Flu shots work by helping the body’s immune system develop antibodies that fight the flu before it becomes serious.  While the vaccine won’t cause someone to get the flu, it can cause temporary side effects, including fever and muscle pain.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that most adults and children receive an annual flu shot.  Exceptions include those with egg allergies and certain medical diagnoses.

In addition to getting vaccinated, older adults and caregivers can reduce their risk of getting the flu by healthy eating, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and washing their hands regularly—especially before touching their own or someone else’s face.  Guidelines to prevent exposure to COVID-19 should also be followed.

Remember, Medicare and most health insurance policies cover the flu vaccine. To find a place that provides flu shots, go to the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.