As in previous years, getting a flu shot is important for older adults. But unlike previous years, it may be even more important this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Not only are older adults at higher risk from complications from the flu and COVID-19, but health experts warn that a surge of flu cases this year could tax an already strained healthcare system.
What You Should Know about a Flu Shot in 2020
When you should get vaccinated: Though flu vaccines are available in the late summer, getting vaccinated earlier isn’t necessarily better. If, for example, you get your vaccination in August, you run the risk of losing protection mid flu season. Health experts recommend getting your flu shot anywhere from mid-September through October for best effectiveness.
What kind of flu shot is best: Flu vaccines come in trivalent and quadrivalent doses. Quadrivalent flu shots — otherwise known as high dose flu vaccines — are recommended for older adults because it produces a stronger immune response.
Where can I get a flu shot? If coronavirus is spreading in your community, you might have anxiety about heading to a doctor’s office or health department to get your flu vaccine. However, the CDC says it’s safe to get your vaccine at any of the places that offer them. If you’re not sure where to get a flu shot, use this vaccine finder to find a location near you.
When going out to receive your shot, remember to keep your distance from others, wear a mask and wash your hands/use sanitizer when you arrive back home.
What else to know: If you actively have or are suspected to have a COVID-19 infection, you should delay getting a flu shot until you feel better. This delay isn’t because the flu vaccine affects the COVID-19 virus, but it’s to ensure you don’t unnecessarily expose healthcare workers and others to coronavirus.
A concern for health experts this year is the possibility of having a co-infection of COVID-19 and the flu. And because experts don’t know how exactly that scenario would look or how to treat it, it’s quite risky. Add to that the fact that both viruses affect the respiratory system, you have the possibility of a lot of damage to the lungs, experts warn.