It’s time to get your flu shot. What to know and how it could be different this year


It is flu season. And flu vaccine season.


For essentially the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

It was barely 10 a.m. and an extended line of automobiles snaked by means of the car parking zone at a mass vaccination heart for a serious hospital steps away from Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. Solely this time, it wasn’t a COVID vaccine that stored automobiles idling and crawling: It was for the 2021 flu shot.  

In some ways, the beginning of this 12 months’s flu season is very like the beginning of final 12 months’s, with the specter of flu infections overlapping with the continued COVID-19 pandemic, creating the potential for a “twindemic” of spiking diseases brought on by the 2 viruses. Nationwide lockdowns that stored folks distanced, blended with the annual flu shot, largely helped dodge the double blast of infections final 12 months. Whereas the US noticed a steep rise in coronavirus infections within the winter, the spread of influenza was uncommonly light.

This 12 months, specialists warn the specter of a twindemic is once more an actual risk, regardless of the arrival of three effective COVID-19 vaccines within the interim. The explanation? The US continues to grapple with waves of delta COVID infections at a time when peoples’ stance on masking and social distancing have turn into political points, not simply public well being issues.

In a typical flu 12 months, hundreds of thousands of individuals within the US catch the influenza virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and tens of 1000’s die from flu-related causes. We talked with three flu-vaccine specialists about what to anticipate this 12 months — learn on for his or her sensible recommendation. For extra on the flu, right here where you can get your shot in 2021, which flu-shot side effects you might expertise and why epidemiologists counsel taking each a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot.


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Do not delay getting your flu shot — the time is now

Within the US — and the northern hemisphere — flu season normally runs October to Might, in keeping with the specialists we spoke to. However the flu virus is much less involved with the seasons and extra all for spreading. So the timing this 12 months could possibly be much less predictable, specialists warn, with final 12 months’s mild flu season and our personal altering behaviors across the pandemic. 

However you do not need to attempt to time your flu shot for when the flu will hit. To be prepared, specialists advocate you get your flu vaccine now.

“We now have a traditional time after we anticipate the flu,” Peter Chin-Hong, a medical physician and professor within the Well being Division of Infectious Illnesses on the University of California, San Francisco, informed CNET. “However this 12 months, it could possibly be atypical or drag on longer, so that is what folks must be ready for.”

An identical shift within the timing of a seasonal virus an infection occurred this summer time when the US and Japan noticed a spike in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infections in class kids, Chin-Hong stated. That is as a result of college students weren’t uncovered to the virus the winter earlier than — when RSV infections usually happen — and so did not have immunity constructed up, which allowed the virus to unfold in the summertime as an alternative.

You might have to make an appointment to get your flu shot

Should you’re used to strolling as much as your native pharmacy, hospital or clinic to get a flu shot each time it is most handy to you, you might discover this 12 months that you need to schedule an appointment as an alternative. 

Indicators in an area pharmacy instruct prospects to make an appointment for each flu and COVID photographs, and Walgreens’ chief medical officer, Kevin Ban, recommends scheduling COVID-19 and flu vaccinations on-line. 

“We’re doing as a lot as doable to make it simple for folks to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated,” Ban informed CNET in a telephone name, including you can additionally name Walgreens’ toll-free number to make an appointment.

It is protected to get your COVID and flu photographs on the similar time

The COVID pandemic continues to trigger infection, hospitalization and death, with hospitals within the hardest-hit areas as soon as once more on the limit of their ability to treat patients. However the flu shot ought to be as simple to get because the COVID-19 vaccination.

In reality, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has stated it’s safe to get a flu shot and COVID vaccination in the same sitting. (Vaccine-maker Moderna stated it is engaged on a combination COVID-19/flu vaccine, however that combo will not be obtainable this 12 months.)


Now’s the time to prepare for the flu season.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The flu vaccine’s effectiveness could possibly be completely different this season

Vaccine makers monitor which flu strains are presently circulating and forecast that are largely prone to turn into the dominant strains through the upcoming flu season. These drug producers then produce a flu vaccine — your flu shot — utilizing three and typically 4 of the most probably flu strains. 

The effectiveness of the vaccine at stopping an infection varies 12 months to 12 months, starting from 19% efficacy within the 2014-2015 season to 60% in 2010-2011. Final 12 months, the flu shot was 39% efficient in stopping an infection. 

And final flu season, about half of US adults and children acquired a flu shot, in keeping with the CDC. Mix that with the steps the US took to examine the unfold of COVID-19, and also you get plenty of reported flu cases within the US that looks like a typo, it’s so unbelievably low: 2,038 flu instances reported through the 2020-2021 flu season vs. 38 million instances reported within the 2019-2020 season.

This 12 months, due to final 12 months’s mild flu season, the vaccine makers had much less to go on to make their predictions and created a vaccine containing 4 possible flu strains — known as a quadrivalent flu vaccine — to extend the possibilities of masking the dominant pressure this 12 months. 

“There was sufficient information to make a great educated guess,” L.J. Tan, chief technique officer for the Immunization Action Coalition, a nonprofit group that works to extend vaccination charges, informed CNET. “Proper now we’re assured we acquired it proper.”

As with the COVID-19 vaccines, the flu shot just isn’t 100% efficient in guarding in opposition to an infection. However just like the coronavirus photographs, the flu vaccine can blunt the severity of the virus when you do catch it. The CDC said getting vaccinated for flu can scale back the danger of getting to go to the physician 40 to 60%

And don’t fret about extra severe uncomfortable side effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether or not the vaccine is made utilizing three parts or 4, the side effects ought to be the identical, Chin-Hong, the UCSF physician, stated.

For extra on vaccines this fall, this is what we all know concerning the Pfizer COVID-19 booster and the Moderna vaccine booster. And this is the most recent on the Johnson & Johnson booster.

The data contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and isn’t supposed as well being or medical recommendation. All the time seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you might have a couple of medical situation or well being goals. being/its-time-to-get-your-flu-shot-what-to-know-and-how-it-could-be-different-this-year/ | It is time to get your flu shot. What to know and the way it could possibly be completely different this 12 months


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