It’s flu season, so it’s time to get your flu vaccine. Last year’s flu season was mild — amazingly so. The CDC reports that there were just 2,038 flu cases during the season from Sept. 27, 2020, to April 24, 2021, compared with about 38 million cases in the 2019-2020 season.
What made the difference? It’s simple: the precautions people took to avoid spreading COVID-19 helped reduce the spread of the flu, too.
Can you skip this year’s flu vaccine?
If you look at the stats from last year and decide that you don’t need to get a flu shot this year, you’re drawing the wrong conclusion. It’s not that the flu is less dangerous.
Flu, short for influenza, can be a serious disease. The last time the world experienced a pandemic like the coronavirus, it was an influenza pandemic. It broke out in 1918 and killed more people than World War I, which had just ended.
Read more about the flu pandemic in this article we published on the 100th anniversary.
People of all ages can become sick with the flu and it usually lasts for two days to two weeks. Sometimes it leads to complications:
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis)
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Inflammation of muscle tissues (myositis, rhabdomyolysis)
- Multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure)
- Severe asthma attacks in people who have asthma
- Worsening of chronic heart disease
The flu can always be dangerous and sometimes fatal. This year, since health care facilities are also still dealing with COVID-19, it is especially important to get your flu vaccine. Some hospitals may be at capacity and there could be a shortage of healthcare professionals. This is not a good year to get the flu.
What is the flu vaccine like?
Most people find that the flu vaccine does not hurt, and has no side effects.
Some people experience pain at the injection site or flu-like symptoms, but the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The most common side effects:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
- Muscle aches
A very small number of people have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome after receiving the flu vaccine. It is estimated that the number is 1 or 2 people per million, and it is not certain that the vaccination caused the syndrome. The danger of the flu is enormously greater than the danger of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Contact your primary care physician to arrange for your flu shot, or get your vaccination at MANA Urgent Care.