Getting a flu shot is a safe, inexpensive way to stay healthy.

But in a typical year, less than half of Americans get the vaccination (just 45% last year). Rates in the United Kingdom are comparable, where just 44.9% of registered patients ages 6 months to 64 years old got a flu vaccination from 2018 to 2019. In the European Union, which committed in 2009 to vaccinate at least 75% of residents ages 65 and older, only 45% of people in that group received vaccines in 2018. 

The number is even lower for people of color, who have been especially vulnerable during the pandemic. In the 2017 to 2018 flu season, just 28.4% of Hispanic people in the United States got vaccinations against influenza. 

With the Covid-19 pandemic spreading rapidly around the globe, distributing the flu vaccine takes on new urgency, according to medical experts.

“Since hospitals and doctors’ offices are going to be very busy caring for Covid-19 patients, a flu vaccine can help decrease burdens on the health care system and make sure that those who need medical care are able to get it,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association and an immunologist in Fort Worth, Texas.

It’s not just to free up resources for Covid-19 patients, though. 

“Influenza is a deadly disease in its own right,” Bailey said.

And because flu symptoms — including fever, sore throat and cough —  look so similar to Covid-19 symptoms, it will be impossible to rule out a coronavirus diagnosis without a test. That means a case of the flu, even if it turns out to be mild, can cause substantial disruption to work and school.

Source : CNN


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