Autumn is officially here, but with the dropping temperatures and falling leaves comes flu season. With the coronavirus pandemic still extremely prevalent and another wave of cases predicted to hit during the 2020-2021 flu season, it is more important than ever to make sure you and your family get your annual flu shots.
2020-2021 Flu Season
Flu season spans from late fall to early spring and affects tens of millions of Americans annually. In a given year, anywhere between 150,000 and one million flu patients are hospitalized, and between 10,000 and 61,000 dies of flu complications, according to the CDC.
The CDC tracks changing influenza strains around the world throughout the year to predict which strains will likely hit America during the cooler months. The organization then uses its predictions to prepare flu vaccinations to protect against those strains. For the 2020-2021 flu season, the most common strains will likely include H1N1 and H3N2, two of the three strains traditional flu shots protect against.
It’s More Important to get Vaccinated for the 2020-2021 Flu Season.
The influenza vaccine is in no way perfect; however, even those who are vaccinated and catch the flu will experience less severe symptoms and faster recovery times than those without a flu shot. The vaccine also has additional benefits for individuals with chronic health conditions. It lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes in those with heart disease and decreases the number of experienced flare-ups for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging in many parts of the world. Earlier this year, many countries experienced hospital bed and health supply shortages due to the influx of COVID patients, and another wave of the virus is expected to hit America this fall. 2020-2021 flu season patients could potentially require up to one million hospital beds that COVID patients could need, as well. To minimize the overlap, it is vital that individuals receive the flu shot and continue practicing social distancing efforts through the fall and winter months.
Getting your Flu Shot
Traditional flu shots are trivalent vaccines, meaning they protect against three separate viruses: two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain. Quadrivalent vaccines are also available, which protect against the same three viruses that the trivalent vaccines do, plus one additional influenza B virus strain.
The vaccines include either an inactivated virus, which has been killed or a recombinant virus, which was made in a laboratory. A quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine is also available that contains live attenuated, or weakened, virus molecules. Healthy, non-pregnant people aged two to 49 can opt for the nasal spray vaccine, though it is not as effective as the shot during certain years.
Depending on your health insurance plan, flu shots may be free or very inexpensive. They can be administered at drug stores, supermarkets, and other health clinics, as well as traditional doctors’ offices. Local boards of health may have a list of free vaccination sites for those who need assistance. You can get this information by calling 211. The 2020-2021 flu season may begin as early as late October, so now is the ideal time to receive a flu shot.
For more information on the flu, visit the CDC’s influenza webpage.
Health Insurance Questions?
We hope this information on the 2020-2021 flu season and the importance of flu shots during COVID-19 is helpful.
Empower Brokerage wants to help you understand the insurance coverage you need and how to save money getting it. Stay on top of your health and give us a call at (844) 410-1320.
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