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Protect Your Family and Community by Getting a Flu Shot

As families send their children back to school this fall, they are faced with new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes deciding on the best type of learning for their children, figuring out how to juggle work and family responsibilities, and also how to make sure their family stays safe and protected from getting sick. While none of those choices are easy to make, there are some ways that you can protect your family during this time. One of the best ways is to make sure your children and family are up to date on their routine vaccinations (shots), including getting the flu shot, this fall.

Why is getting a flu shot so important?

  • Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
    • The flu vaccine stops millions of people from getting sick with the flu each year. For example, during the 2018-2019 flu season, flu vaccination prevented about:
      • 4.4 million influenza cases
      • 2.3 million influenza-related medical visits
      • 58,000 influenza-related hospitalizations
      • 3,500 influenza-related deaths
    • During seasons when the flu vaccine works really well, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent. That means that out of 10 people who get the flu shot, 4 to 6 of them won’t have to go the doctor because of the flu.
  • If you do get sick with the flu, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce how badly you may get sick.
  • Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
    • Getting vaccinated can help protect people around you. This includes those who are more in danger of becoming very sick if they get the flu, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Do I still need to vaccinate my child if they’re not in school?

Yes! Keeping your child up to date on their vaccines is still very important, whether they are learning in person or at home.

What does the flu vaccine have to do with COVID-19?

The flu and COVID-19 will probably both spread this fall and winter. Health care systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever. While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, there are many important benefits, such as:

  • Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
  • Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.

The flu and other vaccine-preventable diseases could make the COVID-19 crisis worse.
As schools reopen and as more people begin to relax their social distancing and masking precautions, flu season could mean more people getting sick. While we can’t prevent every cough or sniffle, vaccines can protect kids and their families from diseases like the flu and whooping cough, which can cause symptoms similar to COVID-19. In areas where communities have to rely on symptoms to decide who should quarantine, the similarity between flu and COVID-19 illnesses could mean more stress for everyone.

School isn’t the only place that kids can get sick
Even if your child is attending school on a limited basis, or virtually, they could still come into contact with others in your community or neighborhood. It is still important to stay up to date on routine vaccines, so that they are protected against any preventable disease they may encounter.

Read more on this topic.

How can I make sure my family is protected as best as possible?

  • Talk to your health care team. If you’re not sure what your child is due for, you can always call your health care team and they can let you know how to keep your child safe against preventable disease. They can also help to schedule an appointment in their office for your child and family.
  • Remember: All children in Maine, ages 0-17, are able to get free vaccines through the Universal Childhood Immunization Program. This covers all children, regardless of ability to pay or insurance type.
  • Look for community-based vaccine clinics. Across Maine and New England, there are a number of community-based vaccine clinics that you can access for your child and family. Many areas have options such as:
    • Drive through flu vaccine stations
    • School-based vaccine clinics
    • Community public health clinics
    • Health care based clinics

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Get Vaccinated.

Contact your MaineHealth provider to schedule a flu vaccine appointment for you and your loved ones. Or, visit VaccineFinder.org for more information on where to get a flu vaccine.

Source: CDC, Seasonal Influenza, What are the Benefits of flu vaccination?