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Flu shots and COVID-19

Learn why it's more important than ever to get your flu shot.

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An Optum Care patient asks her doctor if she needs to get a flu shot this year, when COVID-19 is keeping her out of public places. Learn why this year it's more important than ever to get your flu shot.

Question:

I hate shots. I heard that the flu shot doesn’t always prevent flu and does nothing to fight COVID-19. I also don’t want to go out in public if I don’t have to. Should I get the flu shot this year?

 

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Answer:

With COVID-19, more people are working from home and not wanting to visit a clinic or pharmacy to get a flu shot. But doctors are coming up with creative ways for you to stay safe and still get your shot.

Ready to stick your arm out for a drive-through flu shot? How about visiting a flu clinic in your local community center parking lot?

And there’s always the in-person appointment at your doctor's office. Clinics have set up social distancing and are disinfecting in between patient visits.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with health care providers and state and local health departments to find new, safer ways to give flu shots. This will hopefully reduce exposure to germs that cause COVID-19.

Experts say it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot this year. There’s never a good year to get the flu. But this year, with COVID-19 raging in our communities, it’s an even worse time to get the flu.

The flu shot won't protect you from COVID-19. But, it can lower your chances of getting the flu. If you do get the flu, the flu shot raises your chances of beating it. A flu shot can help your body fight the flu so you don't need hospital care. It could even save your life.

Getting a flu shot doesn't mean you can’t get a COVID-19 shot later on when it's offered. It will be best to get shots for both the flu and COVID-19, because neither will protect you from the other.

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot in September and October. But as long as flu viruses are around, you can still get the shot, even in January or later.

Everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot every year, with some exceptions. To learn how to get your flu shot this fall, call your doctor's office.

In health,
Efrem Castillo, MD
Senior Medical Director, Optum

Will Medicare cover a flu shot?

You pay nothing for a flu shot.

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Sources:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Medicare (medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus)

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.

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