Now is the time to get a flu vaccine! In the U.S., millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year. Every flu season is different, and flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, but receiving a flu vaccine every year offers the best available protection against flu and has been shown to reduce illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from flu. In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, flu vaccination is even more important than usual to decrease the burden of flu overall and help conserve medical resources for the care of COVID-19 patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine every year.* A flu vaccine is particularly important for you because:
- Children younger than 5 years and especially younger than 2 years are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. About 80% of reported child deaths occur in children who have not been fully vaccinated. A flu vaccine can be life-saving for children.
- Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women possibly due to changes in the body, such as the immune system, heart, and lungs that make them more prone to illness. A flu vaccine during pregnancy has been shown to help protect you from flu during pregnancy and can help protect your baby for several months after birth.
- About 30% of adults 50 to 64 years have a medical condition that puts them at high risk of serious flu complications. During recent seasons, adults 50 – 64 have had the second highest rate of hospitalization from flu-related complications, after adults 65 years and older.
- Adults 65 years and older are at high risk of serious complications from influenza due to weakening of the immune system. In fact, during most years, most influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths occur in adults 65 years and older.
- People with chronic medical conditions—such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma—are at higher risk of developing flu-related complications. Complications can range from pneumonia and bronchitis to intensified symptoms of chronic medical conditions and a weakened ability to fight off infections. Studies have shown that flu vaccination was associated with lower rates of cardiac events among people with heart disease, as well as reduced hospitalizations related to their medical condition among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.