CHICAGO - With flu season approaching, the American Medical Association (AMA) is urging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against the flu. During the 2020-2021 flu season, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from the flu. Flu vaccination is part of a comprehensive public health strategy to reduce the burden of flu in the population and to preserve scarce health care resources as we continue to respond to the pandemic.

“Routine vaccination is essential preventive care for children, adolescents, and adults—including pregnant women— that should not be delayed because of the pandemic,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “The location or office might look different, but the need for the flu vaccine is as great as ever.”

Just as wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, getting the flu vaccine helps prevent individuals from becoming ill, as well as prevents further spread to others. Vaccines bolster the health of communities as some people cannot be vaccinated—including very young children, cancer patients and those who are immunosuppressed. When immunization rates are high, people in these categories are protected because they’re less likely to be exposed to the disease.

It is important for patients to keep in mind that ongoing COVID-19 activity may affect when, where, and how flu vaccines are given. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed guidance to help physicians administer vaccinations during the pandemic to ensure patient safety. For patients going to their physician, they will find offices reorganized to protect patients from COVID-19. The pandemic has prompted physicians to modify how they operate safely while continuing to provide patients with essential services. There may be fewer appointments available as offices are disinfecting between patients and making sure patients are not intermingling.

While many people are accustomed to getting their flu shot at work, that might not be an option with work-from-home requirements. Patients might have to visit drop-in clinics or other sites. They should speak with their physician or regular source of care to determine the best way to get their flu shots. The CDC has created an online tool to help patients find nearby places to get vaccinated.

“If there is COVID-19 and flu activity at the same time, this could place a tremendous burden on the health care system,” Dr. Bailey said. “This fall, an important reason to get a flu vaccine is to do your part to help conserve scarce medical resources as health care workers continue to fight COVID-19.”

Flu activity increases in October and most often peaks between December and February—and can last as late as May. While fall is the ideal time to get the flu vaccine, it’s never too late.

“We need to realize that we are all interconnected, and during this pandemic, getting vaccinated is a step to protect our individual and collective health,” Dr. Bailey said.

For more information on flu vaccination, the Journal of the American Medical Association has compiled the following resources: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2769679, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2770159.

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Kelly Jakubek

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

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