Getting a Flu Vaccine is More Important Than Ever in 2020

The CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this year. In this context, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine prior to the flu season.

For the upcoming flu season, a flu vaccination is important to reduce flu because it can:

  • Reduce the number of respiratory illnesseses in our population
  • Lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Keep individuals from getting sick with flu, reduce the severity of the illness if you do get flu and reduce the risk of a flu-associated hospitalization.
  • Reduce the risk of potential co-infections with both Flu and COVID-19

Intermountain Flu Vaccine Locations

Intermountain Community Pharmacies

  • Offering walk in flu vaccines
  • No appointment necessary
  • Available at all Intermountain Pharmacy locations during normal business hours

Regularly Scheduled Appointments

  • Offering flu vaccines at regularly scheduled primary care appointments
  • Please talk with your doctor about getting a flu vaccine

Special Clinics

  • Offering the flu vaccine at many clinics
  • Please check the location for times

What is the difference between COVID-19 and influenza?

Influenza (the flu) and COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus that's led to the current pandemic, are both infectious respiratory illnesses. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses. Research so far indicates that COVID-19 spreads more easily and has a higher death rate than the flu.

  • COVID-19: Caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
  • Influenza: Caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.

Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

Seasonal influenza (flu) frequently comes on fast and furious. One minute you're feeling a little "off" and within an hour or two you know you'd better get yourself to bed. It’s a common respiratory infection caused by a virus that affects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last from 5 to 7 days. Here are some common symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Runny or stuffy nose (sometimes)
  • Sore throat (sometimes)
  • Diarrhea (sometimes in children)

Unlike for colds, vaccination is a good way to prevent the flu. If you received a flu vaccine and still get the flu, your symptoms are generally milder than if you didn’t receive the flu vaccine, and people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized. Most people with the flu get well without medical treatment, although they can be quite ill for several days. Stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids and treat a fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Most people who get the flu will recover in less than two weeks. But in some people, the flu causes complications, including pneumonia. The overall hospitalization rate in the U.S. for the flu last season was about 67 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.

More information about the flu:

Symptom Comparison Table

It is important to remember that antibiotics won’t help any viral infections. Usually, the infections just need to run their course, so it’s best to just wait and watch. If your viral symptoms get better, and then days later suddenly get worse, you should contact your healthcare provider who can evaluate whether you may have a bacterial infection.

Who should get their flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is important to protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe illness, the healthcare system, and other critical infrastructure. Thus, healthcare providers should use every opportunity during the influenza vaccination season to administer influenza vaccines to all eligible persons, including;

  • Essential workers: Including healthcare personnel (including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff) and other critical infrastructure workforce
  • Persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: Including adults aged 65 years and older, residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and persons of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions. Severe illness from COVID-19 has been observed to disproportionately affect members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups
  • Persons at increased risk for serious influenza complications: Including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 years and older, and other persons with certain underlying medical conditions

Vaccine Recommendations

Under 6 Months

no influenza vaccines are approved for ages younger than 6 months

6 Months to 64 years

Regular dose

Age 65+

High-dose

How are the flu and COVID-19 spread?

GermWatch works with the organizations and clinicians throughout Utah to monitor and manage illness in our communities.

Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Both are spread mainly by droplets in the air made when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can be breathed into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get infected by physical human contact (e.g. shaking hands) or by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Both flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 may be spread to others by people before they begin showing symptoms, by people with very mild symptoms or by people who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) as well as those who are ill (symptomatic).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important for influenza (flu) vaccines to be given during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including immunization services. Ensuring that people continue or start getting routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting people and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, including flu. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which further strain the healthcare system.

Disclaimer

Annual flu vaccines are covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicare Parts B and D as well as Medicaid.

Please check with your insurance provider for questions about your medical benefits coverage.