The flu vaccine is a simple and effective way to prevent serious illness from the flu. This year, it’s more important than ever for Vermonters to get a flu shot. Here are four reasons why:
1. To “count flu out”
Getting a flu shot is a good idea every year. This year, because of the added threat of COVID-19, every Vermonter should make the flu shot a top priority. Since we don’t yet have a way to prevent or cure COVID-19, it is vital to do everything you can to reduce your risk of a viral double-whammy this flu season.
According to the CDC, a flu shot reduces your risk of catching the flu by 40-60%. If you do catch the flu after getting your shot, your symptoms should be milder than they would have been without the vaccine. And even though you’re already wearing your mask, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing, getting vaccinated is still important.
“It is extremely important for Vermonters to get a flu shot this year,” says Dr. Kate McIntosh, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s senior medical officer. “The physical safety measures we’re all taking to protect against COVID-19 will help to slow down the spread of the flu, but the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu-related illness.”
2. To protect our health care resources
The possibility of overwhelming our health care system has been a concern since the pandemic began. Flu season significantly adds to that concern. Both the flu and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms. Both viruses can also cause lung issues and other serious health problems that may require hospitalization. Getting your flu shot significantly lowers your chance of needing flu-related testing or hospital care.
There is also some early evidence to suggest that the flu shot may offer some cross-protection when it comes to the most serious effects of COVID-19 infection. This means that by getting your flu shot, you’re playing an important role in making sure our hospitals, providers, and testing centers will continue to be able to provide care to every Vermonter who needs it.
3. To protect our loved ones, neighbors, and communities
When it comes to preventing infection, it’s not just about you!
“When I get vaccinated for the flu, I’m doing more than protecting myself,” says Dr. Joshua Plavin, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s chief medical officer. “I’m also protecting my kids, older Vermonters, pregnant people—all those who are at high risk of complications and death. I get vaccinated to protect others just like I wear a mask to protect others.”
The flu is a serious illness that kills tens of thousands of people every year; the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 remains one of the five deadliest pandemics in human history. When you get your flu shot, by lowering your own risk of infection, you’re helping to stop the spread and save lives.
4. It’s easy, safe, fast—and usually free
The flu vaccine is widely available in many convenient locations like your local pharmacy, major grocery store chains, and your health care provider’s office. Getting the shot takes just a few minutes, and side effects are generally mild.
It may take a little extra planning to get your shot this year, but it’s well worth the effort, and it probably won’t come with a cost—most health plans cover flu shots at no out-of-pocket cost to you (check with your plan for details).
“Vermont health care providers and pharmacies are following COVID-19 precautions to make sure people can get vaccinated safely,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “So no matter what your age or where you live, getting your flu shot will keep you safe and protected. It's a simple step you can take to stay as healthy as possible.”
Don’t wait! Schedule your flu shot today.
Find a flu shot near you:
Vaccine Finder: https://vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine
Public Flu Clinics in Vermont: (not a complete list)
- Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice: https://www.cvhhh.org/community-services/public-flu-clinics/
- Community Health (serving Rutland and Southern Addison Counties) https://www.chcrr.org/chcrr-flu-shot-clinics
- Southwestern Vermont Health Care: https://svhealthcare.org/news/svmc-announces-flu-vaccine-events
- Public Health Council of the Upper Valley: https://uvpublichealth.org/public-health-council-events/
- CDC Flu Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/flu
- VT Dept. of Health Flu Resources: https://www.healthvermont.gov/disease-control/flu
- UVM Medical Center Flu Resources: https://www.uvmhealth.org/medcenter/patients-and-visitors/patients/safety/flu-prevention