Protect yourself (and others) with a flu shot
The flu may be taking a back seat to the coronavirus (COVID-19) among your medical worries. But the flu poses a risk this year, too. And, there’s something you can do to limit your risk of getting the flu – that’s get a flu shot.
Wayne Rawlins, MD, MBA
• “I never had a flu shot, and I never got the flu.”
• “I know someone who swears he got the flu from the shot.”
• “I don’t like needles. I’ll take my chances.”
Have you heard any of these reasons for not getting an annual flu shot? Have you ever said them yourself? (FYI – the flu shot does not give you the flu.)
Public health experts agree: we’re wearing masks to protect each other. The flu shot is another way to protect yourself and the health of others.
Some flu facts:
• Millions of people, on average, are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands of people die from flu each year.
• The flu can last between one and two weeks. Even after symptoms like fever, chills, and cough subside, you can feel weak and tired for days.
• Some symptoms for the flu and COVID-19 are similar. If you feel ill, talk to your primary care provider (PCP). He or she can decide if you should be tested for either illness or for both.
• A bad flu season can overwhelm the capacity of doctors’ offices and hospitals. That’s something we especially want to avoid while we are battling COVID-19.
• Otherwise healthy people who get the flu can expose people who are especially vulnerable and could get very sick. Those include children, the elderly, and anyone with a chronic condition, such as asthma, heart disease, or cancer.
Here’s our advice for avoiding the flu
Get the shot. It’s the best way to prevent the flu. And talk toyour doctor about the pneumonia vaccine, too. It’s recommended for everyone 65 years and older, and for adults with certain health conditions.
Keep up the habits that we know can also help you avoid catching or spreading COVID-19 (they work for the flu, too): Wash your hands often, disinfect surfaces frequently, stay 6 feet or more away from others, wear a mask in public, avoid people who are sick, and stay home if you’re sick.
3 things to know about the flu shot:
• Who should get a flu shot: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that almost everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.
• When to get a flu shot: Soon after the vaccine becomes available, ideally by the end of October, before the flu becomes widespread.
• The flu shot is no cost with your plan.* ConnectiCare covers the cost when you get your shot from an in-network doctor, community flu clinic, or retail pharmacy.*
*If you get a flu shot while visiting your doctor for another reason, your plan’s copayment, deductible and coinsurance will apply to the visit. Also, if you get it at an out-of-network doctor, you will have to submit an out-of-plan reimbursement form.
About Wayne Rawlins, MD, MBA
Dr. Wayne Rawlins, vice president and chief medical officer at WellSpark Health, is a former member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, where he worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to advise and make recommendations on national vaccine policy. WellSpark Health and ConnectiCare are part of the EmblemHealth family of companies.