The mere mention of the word “vaccine” these days can send folks into a tailspin. But deep breath – I’m not here to talk about the Covid vaccine.
Look, I get it. There are lots of reasons people don’t get the flu shot that have nothing to do with anti-vaxx beliefs or conspiracy theories about microchips. I recently logged into my state’s vaccine database to download the my Covid vaccine record, and was able to see my entire vaccine history for the past several years. I was shocked to realize that I’d only gotten the flu shot regularly in the past few years. For most of my adult life, I didn’t get a flu shot — and it had nothing to do with anti-vax beliefs and everything to do with a lack of time and motivation.
But this is not the year to let the flu shot fall off your to-do list. Make a plan. Write that shit on your calendar. Set up multiple reminders. And then get your damn flu shot. Get your Covid vaccine while you’re at it.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that things are bad — like really bad — right now. COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations are skyrocketing, especially for the unvaccinated. And public health experts say this winter could be even worse, with the pandemic and flu season colliding.
According to CNN, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) typically suggests people get the flu shot by the end of October, but this year, they are recommending that people get it as soon as possible.
“Years ago, we would say you should wait as long as you can to get a shot, but if you get it in the fall, that really should cover you through the season,” Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of pediatric infection control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told CNN. “If people get the chance to go ahead and get their flu shot, whenever they can do it is probably good.”
In an average flu season, according to the CDC, the US sees 9-45 million flu cases. Last year, however, due to social distancing, lockdowns, and widespread masking, the flu was practically non-existent in the US, with only a few thousand cases. This year, on the other hand, could be a different story. Several states don’t have mask mandates. Kids are back in school in person, in many locations without masking requirements. And travel, retail and hospitality are all operating at full capacity for the most part.
All of these factors will likely cause an increase in flu cases compared to last year. Our already tapped out, stretched-too-thin health systems may not be able to handle it – not to mention our own bodies.
An added bonus to the flu shot: it might make you less likely to suffer a severe COVID-19 infection.
Listen, I know that talking about a vaccine – even if it’s not that vaccine – is the last thing you want to do right now. You’d much rather read something funny and light-hearted. Maybe even laugh at a few gifs. We’ve got pandemic fatigue and bad news fatigue and are-we-still-arguing-about-common-sense fatigue. I get it. Really I do.
So I’ll stop here and leave you with some adorable gifs to brighten your day.
You. Yeah You.
You really need to get the flu shot.
So make a plan. Don’t end up like this.
Get your kids the flu shot.
And while you’re at it, get vaccinated against Covid too if you haven’t already.