NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – As COVID-19 rages on, doctors are putting out the plea for Americans to get another shot, one that’s been around for a while: the flu shot.
Flu season is sneaking up, which means the time to get vaccinated against it is too.
Last year, the country saw historically low cases of the flu. It’s attributed to restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Without those same restrictions in place, doctors expect flu cases to rise this fall and winter.
That is why Dr. John Snellings, associate professor of family and community medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, wants people to get the flu shot.
“Getting the flu shot now allows the vaccine to take hold in your body and provide you that protection so when flu season really does start picking up more in November/December, you’ll have the maximum amount of protection that this season’s vaccine can provide you,” said Snellings.
He says you can even get the flu shot at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The CDC has recently published guidelines that say ‘no concern.’ You can get them both on the same day if you need to,” said Snellings. “You can get them both on the same arm if you need to.”
As for side effects, he doesn’t expect it to be a double whammy.
“I had heard from a couple of patients myself that they were worried that if they got both shots at the same time that they would be completely knocked out for like a week because they were thinking ‘the normal effect of the COVID vaccine and the normal effect of the flu shot, it’s going be a double whammy.’ But it’s really not what we would anticipate,” said Snellings.
He hopes parents get their children vaccinated against the flu, especially since many children are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Every child in school is eligible for an influenza vaccine because that eligibility starts at six months,” said Snellings. “So my recommendation would be to get your kids vaccinated against the flu.”
He encourages anyone eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to get one.
“The evidence is so clear that it’s a safe vaccine and it does have a world of benefit with preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death,” Snellings said.
There are a number of ways to get free flu shots this fall, including most pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.
Click here for more information about Sentara Healthcare’s Drive-Thru Flu events.