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For the best protection, the CDC says you should get your flu shot in September or October. It takes about two weeks for the shot to start protecting you. That’s why you shouldn’t wait until the flu season is raging to get your shot.
Getting a flu shot will not protect against COVID-19. But it will cut the risk of getting the flu and the health risks it brings. And it can help reduce the spread of flu, which puts many people in the hospital each year.
It is possible to have COVID-19 and flu at the same time. And the CDC says it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading more during flu season this year.
Last year there was historically low flu activity, likely due to COVID-19 safety measures like more people staying at home and wearing masks, which also help prevent flu. With flu cases being so much lower last year, there were also a low number of recorded cases of people with both the flu and COVID-19.
But the CDC expects that both flu and COVID-19 cases will increase during the upcoming flu season. That does increase the chances of getting both at the same time.
But the flu alone usually kills thousands of people each year and sends hundreds of thousands more to the hospital. That’s why the CDC says most people who are six months old or older should get a yearly flu shot.
There are many reasons that this is good advice. You can get the flu from someone who doesn’t know they have it. And dodging the weeks of fever, severe headaches, and muscle aches and pains makes the flu shot worth your time and trouble.
Your decision to get a flu shot will also help protect other members of your community. That includes older people, children and pregnant women. It also includes people of all ages who have health problems like asthma or diabetes. They’re all among those who have the highest risk of getting serious, even life-threatening, complications if they get the flu.
Don’t put off getting your flu shot.
Originally published 7/27/2020; Revised 2022
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