Health experts say this year more than ever, a flu shot is likely to not only help you but also help hospitals have the capacity they may need to care for both flu and COVID-19 patients at the same time. Health professionals say anyone coming down with both viruses may experience some difficult health situations — and then there the concerns over how the two viruses will tax hospital beds, ICU units and ventilators. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:
FROM THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION:
Each year, less than 50 percent of eligible Americans get a flu vaccine, leaving too many people vulnerable to the potential deadly consequences of the flu. In the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC estimates there were up to 56 million seasonal flu cases, leading to up to millions of flu-related medical visits, hundreds of thousands flu-related hospitalizations and up to 62 thousand deaths. This year, while hospitals and healthcare workers are busy caring for COVID-19 patients, it is more important than ever for everyone to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.
While anyone can get the flu, certain groups are at increased risk for influenza-related complications and disease severity, particularly older adults, and people living with chronic medical conditions. By the time U.S. adults reach age 55, it is estimated nearly 80 percent have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition, and nearly half have been diagnosed with two or more, including lung or heart disease, diabetes and/or cancer. These individuals are more vulnerable to complications from the flu and COVID-19.
A confluence of seasonal flu and COVID-19 is on its way. The spreading of both viruses will most likely place a tremendous burden on the healthcare system and result in many more illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from both diseases. While there is currently not a licensed vaccine to help protect from COVID-19, there is a flu vaccine. The American Lung Association is calling on all Americans, but especially those aged 50 or older to get a flu vaccine as it remains the best way to protect yourself and your community from the flu.