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Your Annual Flu Shot Is More Important Than Ever

November 18, 2020

This year, the flu shot is vital to help avoid the possibility of high rates of influenza — which has the potential to cost lives and strain our health system even more. “It’s all too unpredictable,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “We have nothing to compare to this year. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is just too new to know how it will react with an influenza virus.”

The Coronavirus pandemic upended life for most Americans in 2020, causing global concern and changing our habits. But COVID-19 emerged largely during the spring and summer. Now, as winter approaches, it is not the only virus to be concerned about.

Many medical professionals are worried about how the annual flu season might be worse than normal while the Coronavirus is still highly infectious as well.

Preparing for the yearly influenza virus is more important than ever — starting with getting a flu shot.

Avoiding a “twindemic”
Many of the same populations are vulnerable to the COVID-19 and the flu:

  • The elderly
  • Immune-compromised people
  • Pregnant people

But, the flu also spreads rapidly among children.

In a season where both COVID-19 and influenza are spreading, it will be vital to continue the preventive habits many have adopted this year.

  • Hand-washing and disinfecting
  • Social distancing
  • Wearing a mask while around others

Get a flu shot
The number-one way to avoid getting and spreading the flu is by getting your annual flu shot.

  • “Herd protection” — meaning getting enough people vaccinated that the flu cannot spread easily — this also helps those too at risk to get the shot 
  • Vaccines like the flu shot have proven successful year after year
  • Most plans cover the flu shot 100 percent, making it a totally free way to improve your health 

Overlapping symptoms
COVID-19 and the yearly flu have many similar symptoms. If you feel fluish, you might talk to your doctor about testing for COVID-19 as a precaution. Note that these symptoms are what is typical, but can vary by person.


  • Runny nose
  • Sinus congestion


  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache


  • Loss of taste or smell

Life cycle of the flu
Like the Coronavirus, people with influenza can feel fine but still be contagious. They will usually start to show symptoms earlier than those with COVID-19, though.

  • Most people with flu are contagious for about at least one day before they show symptoms
  • Symptoms can arise one to four days after infection
  • Older children and adults are the most contagious during the first four days, but remain contagious for about a week
  • Babies and people with weaker immune systems can be contagious for even longer

Take steps to avoid influenza by getting a flu shot. There are many ways to do so safely. You can:

  • Visit a pharmacy
  • Go to your local urgent care
  • Find a mobile flu shot clinic
  • Make an appointment at your doctor’s office

However you decide to get your flu shot, the important thing is to take the necessary step to stay healthy.