A woman getting her 2020 flu shot at UAB Medical West Hospital

2020 has been a turbulent year (to put it lightly). The ongoing global pandemic has made it easy to overlook regularly scheduled check ups and routine healthcare. For that same reason, there are some appointments that shouldn’t go forgotten--your annual flu shot chief among them.


The flu isn’t skipping 2020 to make way for COVID-19. You shouldn’t skip your flu shot either. 

According to the CDC, this year’s pandemic makes reducing the spread of the flu more important than ever.  While doing your part to mitigate the pandemic by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and adhering to social distancing guidelines, you should also add a quick visit for your 2020 flu shot.

UAB Medical West provides flu shot updates and encourages everyone to come in for an appointment or make your shot part of an already scheduled visit. 


When to get a flu shot

Both general wisdom and the CDC agree that in 2020, September and October are prime months for getting your flu shot. Even so, as the flu season progresses, you may be receiving your flu shot as late as January or February of 2021. “The sooner, the better” certainly applies, but there’s no cause for panic if you can’t receive your shot straight away.


Currently, there are plenty of flu shots available. No significant shortages have been reported by manufacturers or distributors of the vaccine. 


Is a flu shot REALLY that important this year?

It may sound like a reasonable question, but the answer is obvious. It’s important to realize that you can contract both the coronavirus and the flu simultaneously. Neither virus prohibits the other, and as bad as each is on its own, coming down with both could be catastrophic.


By best estimates and current understanding, COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu. Even so, the previous 2019-2020 flu season was not without a human cost. 


According to the CDC, from October 1, 2019, through April 4, 2020, between 410,000-740,000 people were hospitalized with the flu. Deaths are estimated between 24,000-62,000 people. The flu may not be as talked about as COVID-19 this year, but that doesn’t make it insignificant.


Who should get a flu vaccine?

This year, as in years prior, the answer is simple: everyone. Although the pandemic has trained us to conserve resources for essential workers, there have been no reported shortages of the flu vaccine so far this year. At present, anyone who wants a flu shot can get one.


Even if you’re staying home as much as possible and maintaining social distancing, the risk of contracting the flu still remains. The CDC recommends that everyone receive a flu shot starting at 6 months and older. 


If you are an essential worker, or if your work keeps you in frequent contact with others or unable to stay home, the flu vaccine is even more important this year. 


How will the flu shot affect my risk of COVID-19?

Aside from a trip to visit your physician, there is no additional risk whatsoever of contracting the coronavirus related to the flu shot. The flu shot will not increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.


There is also no likewise benefit of the shot beyond protecting you from the flu. The flu shot does not guard against the coronavirus nor make you less likely to contract it. However, it does shield you against the dual contraction of the flu and coronavirus, which, as mentioned, could be catastrophic.


Furthermore, the flu shot can reduce your risk of the flu as well as your chances of hospitalization and death resulting from it. These benefits alone are worth scheduling a timely appointment.


Always Vigilant

These days, just getting out of the house or visiting your physician can cause heightened stress. But the flu doesn’t make way for newer viruses. It’s coming this year as it always has.


Don’t let your anxiety or concern over the ongoing pandemic stop you from making the smart decision for both you and your loved ones. Schedule an appointment for your flu shot and get it out of the way.


Contact your nearest UAB Medical West location to schedule your flu shot today!

Unlike a lot of us, the flu isn’t working remotely this year. As we continue to address the pandemic and safeguard our communities, the flu season must also warrant your consideration. To schedule an appointment or add a flu shot to a regular checkup, call 205-996-WEST. Serving Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance, UAB Medical West is here to demystify your health concerns.