A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Why Getting a Flu Shot Is Even More Important This Year

My daughter sent me this meme other day:
January, February, March, quarantine, December

Not the funniest meme out there, but it sure sums up the way time is passing. It’s hard to believe that after the past many months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to get your flu shot again this fall.

We’re ready to protect you and your family, and it’s easier than ever with our drive-through flu shot locations. Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu shot, and this year, it matters more than ever! It’s crucial to protect as much of the population as possible from the flu this winter, as we’re also facing an expected surge of COVID-19.

Here’s why:
• It’s not yet understood how the combination of COVID-19 and influenza (the “flu”) will affect our population. People may become very ill if they get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time or one after the other.
• Influenza is a serious illness and having it may weaken the immune system’s ability to respond to COVID-19. Having the flu could also increase your risk of getting COVID-19.
• While social distancing will help decrease the rates of infection for both viruses, it’s still important to get a flu shot. Staying away from people who may be sick and washing hands frequently certainly helps, and a flu shot gives added protection!
• Children may spread the flu virus to elderly or other at-risk relatives. As schools consider even partial reopening, we need to vaccinate children to protect the population and prevent them from bringing the flu home to their families.

Avoiding confusion between COVID and flu
Decreasing the rate of influenza cases has many benefits in the fight against COVID-19. These 2 illnesses have similar symptoms, making them potentially confusing to diagnose. If we can reduce the number of people with the flu.
• There’ll be fewer times when we’re unsure if a person has COVID-19 or influenza.
• We’ll preserve our COVID-19 testing and treating capabilities.
• We’ll be able to reserve hospital beds for our sickest patients.
• Fewer essential workers will miss work due to illness.

Getting a flu vaccine is safe
Our medical centers are offering drive-through flu shot locations for you to get vaccinated right from your own vehicle – a shot done safely (but without the shake and side of fries!) And if you need to come in for care, you will be able to get your flu shot then. We’re paying strict attention to social distancing, masks, and hygiene to keep you healthy.

I get my flu vaccine every year – and so do my 3 children. I want your children to be as protected as my own, and getting a flu shot today is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy this winter. In this challenging year it can feel as parents that there’s little we can control – but this is one step you can take to keep your family safe!

Resources for Parents:
My Doctor Online has a Cold and Flu website with expert advice – use it to find the nearest flu vaccine, treat symptoms at home, and know when to call your doctor.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an excellent and trustworthy source of more information about flu and the flu vaccine.
Also in KP Thriving Families Blog:
Questions Parents Ask about the Flu Vaccine
7 Things Pediatricians Want You to Know About the Flu

Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.