woman showing arm with medical patch

COVID-19 and vaccinations.

In 2020 and 2021, those have been words used a crazy amount of times, and for good reason.

But health professionals don’t want to people to forget about the tried-and-true flu shot, which hasn’t been getting as much publicity in recent years because of the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made COVID and vaccinations a top priority, but CDC officials have some thoughts on the importance of flu shots as well.

“There are many reasons to get an influenza vaccine each year,” the CDC’s website states. “Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccine [during the pandemic] is even more important than ever.

“Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19 but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system, and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.”

The CDC states that during 2019-2020, the influenza vaccine prevented 7.5 million cases of the illness, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations and as many as 6,300 deaths. The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of influenza-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults and older adults.

It’s an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions and can lower rates of some flu-related cardiac events among people with heart disease. It can help protect women during and after pregnancy, and can be lifesaving for children.

Several studies have shown it can reduce severity of illness if people get infected despite being vaccinated, according to the CDC.

There is also a question if people should receive flu shots and COVID vaccinations at the same time. That’s still a little hazy until more research is available.

“For now, I would say the advantage of getting them together is that if you do get side effects, you will only get them once — one day to suffer through them,” Dr. Andrew Pavia told webmd.com. “Also, it’s one trip to the doctor.

“The potential advantage of separating them is that is how we developed and tested the vaccines. If you do react to them, side effects could be milder but it will be on two separate days. I’m going to get my flu shot as soon as it’s available. If I’m due for a COVID booster at the time, I would probably do them together.”