If no other year, get the flu shot this year

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As we head further into the fall season, we also begin to enter the flu season. Given the potential impact of COVID-19 this year, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu is critical.

Given the potential double dose of viral risk, it is more important than ever to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that all people six months and older get their yearly flu vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine may reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% and also may reduce the severity of illness in people who are vaccinated but still get sick. That’s why it’s critical to consider, if no other year, to get the flu shot this year

Local business leaders can help spread the word by encouraging their respective workforces and the public at large to get a flu shot this fall to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the flu amid the ongoing pandemic.

Flu shots are considered preventive and often covered through employer-sponsored, individual, Medicare and Medicaid health plans. It’s best to get it early into the season and they’re generally available through primary care physicians, pharmacies and convenience care clinics. They should already be available at many locations.

Every year, the flu can cause serious illness and death. This season will be critically important since it’s still unknown if being sick with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time will result in a more severe illness. A flu shot won’t protect against COVID-19; however, it can help in avoiding contracting the flu and experiencing potential complications, such as the need for in-person medical visits.

With vaccines to prevent COVID-19 remaining in development, raising awareness of the flu vaccine is more important than ever, and the local business community can play an important role in helping to spread the word. The more that can be done to prevent the spread of each virus, the better off our community will be.

Dr. Nicole Brady is chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare of Michigan.

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