September 16, 2020

Flu shots essential with COVID-19 in full swing

Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

Damaris Green was hospitalized with severe flu.

Damaris Green will never repeat the mistake he made in 2018.

After deciding not to get vaccinated against the flu, the Kaiser Permanente member ended up in the hospital with a severe case of the infectious respiratory illness, one of hundreds of thousands of Americans to meet that fate each year.  

“[My] organs were failing,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the great doctors here at Kaiser Permanente, I might not be here today.”

Now more than ever

Green’s story is a cautionary tale as the United States heads into its 2020–21 flu season with the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing.

“The flu is serious. Each year, tens of thousands of people in the United States die from the flu, and many more are hospitalized,” said Paul Thottingal, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s national infectious disease leader.  

“Getting vaccinated has always been the best defense against the flu, but this year it’s more important than ever,” he added. “A bad flu season could further strain a health care system that’s already coping with COVID-19.”

Avoiding a dangerous double-whammy

Although the flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms, they’re caused by different viruses, and it is possible to have both at the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, “catching the flu could potentially make you more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases by compromising your immune system,” noted David Bronstein, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California.

That’s why Kaiser Permanente is urging everyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot as soon as possible. Getting vaccinated not only helps keep you healthy, it also protects those around you who may be at higher risk for flu complications. That includes children 5 and younger, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and HIV.

“We don’t yet have a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Thottingal, “but we’ve had the flu vaccine for a while now. It’s safe and effective, and can protect you and your family from a potentially life-threatening illness.”

 

Getting vaccinated is safe and convenient — and there’s no cost for Kaiser Permanente members

To safely and conveniently deliver flu shots during the coronavirus pandemic, Kaiser Permanente is offering a variety of vaccination options, all designed to maintain the physical distancing that’s essential in preventing the spread of COVID-19. These include drive-thru clinics, outdoor clinics, and roving carts that minimize patient traffic within our facilities.

Vaccination locations, dates, and hours vary, so visit kp.org/flu to find the option that’s best for you. Flu shots are available at no cost to all members.