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Flu Vaccination More Important Than Ever to Lower Risk, Protect Resources 

This fall and winter bring the potential for yet another challenge to our health. Flu viruses will be spreading as we continue grappling with the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever. While it won’t protect you from COVID-19, it brings many other benefits for your health, your family’s health, and our community,” said Jane Pike-Benton, RN, MS, chief clinical officer for VNA Care.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the 2017-2018 influenza (flu) vaccine prevented 6.2 million flu illnesses, 3.2 million flu-associated medical visits, 91,000 flu-associated hospitalizations, and 5,700 flu-associated deaths.

“These are really significant numbers,” added Pike-Benton. “The flu shot gives you a way to help take control of your health. You can reduce your risk of getting the flu and spreading it to loved ones. If you get the flu, the vaccine reduces the seriousness of your illness. This helps save healthcare resources for people who truly need them, especially if COVID-19 cases spike again while we wait for a vaccine.”

Flu season typically goes from early October to early April. September and October are particularly good times to get the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age or older get the vaccine each year unless their doctor recommends otherwise. Contact your doctor about getting the flu vaccine.

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, and it is possible to have both at the same time. The two also share a range of symptoms from none (also called asymptomatic) to fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, tiredness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, and headache. People with COVID-19 may experience a change or loss in taste or smell. Should you experience any flu-like symptoms, it is important to tell your doctor. Tests may be needed to see if you have flu or COVID-19 and to plan your care.

“Everyone needs to remain diligent as we face both flu and COVID-19. The best advice I can give is to get your flu shot and follow the COVID-19 prevention guidelines that we’ve come to know well,” said Pike-Benton.

For more information about the flu or COVID-19, visit the websites for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (flu or COVID-19) and CDC (flu or COVID-19) (www.cdc.gov). 

This information is intended for educational purposes only. For medical advice, please contact your health care provider.

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