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Got Your Flu Shot Yet? It’s Time!

October 20, 2020
With attention understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, there might be an important thing you haven’t gotten around to yet — getting your annual flu vaccine. Mary Beth Marsden talked with Sahayini Kumar, MD, an internal medicine specialist with GBMC Health Partners, about why it’s especially important to get your flu vaccine this year, what chronic health conditions increase your risk of getting seriously ill from the flu, and how GBMC is making it easier than ever to get your flu shot.

“October is the best month to get your flu shot, but it’s not too late to still get tremendous benefit from getting vaccinated,” explained Dr. Kumar. “Last year there were 38 million cases of the flu in the U.S. with 400,000 people hospitalized. But data showed that 7.5 million flu cases were prevented by people getting the flu shot.”

Flu can be especially dangerous for people with chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and COPD. Dr. Kumar also said that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu shot can help keep serious flu cases at a lower level so hospitals dealing with an increasing number of COVID-19 patients won’t be overwhelmed.

There are different types of flu vaccine, including a higher dose vaccine for older people whose immune systems are not as strong and a nasal mist that may be easier for young children who are anxious about injections. All versions of the vaccine, however, contain the same four strains of the virus, which is killed or weakened. Because the flu virus mutates every year, the vaccine is updated annually to include the strains of the flu that are most likely to be prevalent, which is why you need to get the vaccine every year.

To make getting your flu shot as easy as possible, GBMC is offering drive-in flu shots through November 14. No need to go to the doctor’s office or pharmacy or even get out of your car! Ask your primary care physician how to make a drive-in flu shot appointment or make your appointment on the MyChart app.

“You’re not just doing this for yourself. Even if you’re young and healthy, get the shot to protect others in your family and community who are at greater risk of complications from the flu,” advised Dr. Kumar.
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