The Importance of the Flu Vaccine

Lexi Belyue ‘21, Web Editor

The importance of flu shots seems to be heightened this year because of the pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are stressing that the public should receive flu shots to lower the risk of two respiratory illnesses roaming throughout the world.
According to otolaryngologist Lascelles Pinnock, by receiving the flu vaccine a person “blocks influenza infection, decreases the severity of the symptoms, prevents death and avoids carrier transmission of the influenza infection to close contacts.”
By not receiving the vaccine, rheumatology director Kevin Douglas said a person runs the risk of “acquiring the flu and also putting the people around that person at risk.” Reviving the flu vaccine “could possibly aid in decreasing the severity of COVID symptoms,” perioperative nurse Tomeka Austin said. “Every individual is different, and their responses to illness and diseases are different. Everyone will not have the same response.”
In fact, Douglas said his team’s goal for the vaccine is to “mitigate the risk of acquiring any of the four influenza viruses and reduce the risk of simultaneously having the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19.”
When comparing last year’s and this year’s flu reports, Pinnock said he is hopeful. He said he believes the reports will be lower because, “more people will get the flu vaccine and there will be less influenza infection.”
“I believe that the rate of individuals receiving the Flu Vaccine will increase this year over last year,” Austin said in agreement.
Austin, Pinnock, and Douglas all advise people to receive the flu shot.
“It is important to receive a flu vaccine to decrease your chances of having influenza and COVID-19 infection at the same time,” Pinnock said. “Symptoms of both diseases are similar and may overwhelm your immune system, making it difficult for your body to fight off those infections.”
“Getting the flu vaccine reduces the risk of severe symptoms that come with contracting both the flu and the COVID-19 virus simultaneously,” Douglas said.
Pinnock said COVID-19 and the flu vaccine have been covered by the media in a manner of excellence through clearly displaying the number of infections and death toll as a result of the pandemic.
“The media showing the human loss and devastation from this infection. It shows how hospitals and medical systems are working hard to provide medical care for everyone,” Pinnock said.
Additionally, Douglas said he has similar ideas on the importance of the flu vaccine.
“I believe the public needs to know that it is more important this year to get your flu shot because of the severe symptoms of a combined infection of both influenza and COVID19 together,” Douglas said.
To ensure safety, Austin said people need to have the protection of others in the forefront of their minds.
“The public [should] protect themselves, protect their families, protect those they come in contact with and seek advice from medical professionals,” Austin said.
While the flu and COVID seem like scary feats, Austin said can be managed and controlled by “following safety guidelines, wearing facial coverings, increasing hand hygiene and avoiding large gatherings.”
Furthermore, Austin said the flu vaccine also contributes to overall health. “We need to protect ourselves and others. We must keep our immune systems strong and healthy,” Austin said.