<< Back

Why You Should Wait Until At Least Oct. 1 to Get a Flu Shot

August 20, 2020

Some locations are already offering flu shots, but an infectious disease specialist at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, part of Hartford HealthCare, said timing is everything this year.

Nationally, public health officials are predicting what they’ve called a “twindemic” when the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic coincides with the start of the seasonal flu season this fall. Dr. Jo-Anne Passalacqua, who urged everyone eligible to get a flu vaccination, said waiting a little longer to do so will extend the protection they provide.

“Ideally, flu shots should happen somewhere between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1. That’s kind of the sweet spot because a flu vaccine only lasts about six months,” she said.

Waiting too long to get a flu vaccine, however, could be problematic once the second wave of COVID-19 strikes and the symptoms of the potentially lethal virus mimic the flu.

“This year, having symptoms of influenza could be misconstrued as the COVID virus,” she said. “That, obviously, has many consequences for people.”

Nationally, only 47 percent of Americans got a flu shot in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Passalacqua said she hopes more people will consider it this year to help prevent overcrowding in area hospitals and deaths. The flu, last year, was responsible for up to 62,000 deaths nationally.

“The flu kills people every year, sometimes even young and healthy people,” she said.

The CDC announced plans to secure 2 million more doses of pediatric flu vaccine and 9.3 million more doses of adult vaccine this year as it mounts an aggressive awareness campaign to boost vaccination numbers nationwide. Director Robert Redfield set a goal of vaccinating 65 percent of the population this year.

“I’ve said if there’s one thing we can all do – besides the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing and being smart about gatherings – to basically, ultimately, prepare ourselves for the fall it’s to get the flu vaccine,” he told the media.

The flu alone typically taxes the healthcare system each year with increased volumes in hospital emergency departments, medical units and intensive care units. Coupling it this year with another wave of COVID-19, also a respiratory disease, could be crippling for the system.

Hartford HealthCare hosts flu clinics across the state every fall. For updates as schedules become available, click here.

For more information about St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, click here.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care provider.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Listen and subscribe to Hartford HealthCare’s More Life series on Apple Podcasts by clicking here.

Stay fit. Stay happy. Stay healthy. And keep on top of COVID-19 with Hartford HealthCare’s daily text alerts. Subscribe by texting MoreLife to 31996.