Fall is finally here. We can feel it in the crisp autumn air, in the fuzzy cardigans we recently unearthed from the box buried in the back of our closets.
We love fall. But you know what we don’t love? Winter. Winter means illness — specifically, the flu.
Flu season is upon us, and experts are warning of a possible “twindemic” due to overlapping epidemics of the flu and COVID-19. North Carolina has already reported its first flu-related death, and state health officials are urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how miserable it is. And sure, the flu vaccine isn’t perfect, but studies have shown that it reduces the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
But perhaps most importantly, getting vaccinated not only protects yourself — it protects those around you, too. This is what's known as “herd immunity,” or the potential for vaccinated members of a community to help prevent the virus from spreading to those who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons.
Getting your flu shot should always be a priority — as we’ve written before — but this year, it may be more important than ever. Due to the ongoing pandemic, resources such as ICU beds and ventilators are already limited. If an outbreak of COVID-19 and the flu were to happen at the same time, experts say, it could completely overwhelm the health care system.
Getting a flu vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, but it will reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death — thus saving precious health care resources for coronavirus patients. An added benefit to getting your flu shot this season is that it’ll reduce the likelihood of confusion and misdiagnosis. By this, we mean that if you start feeling symptoms that overlap between COVID-19 and the flu, you’ll have an easier time ruling out the flu (worst-case scenario, of course).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.
If none of this is enough for you, first of all: OK, wow. But second of all, Target is offering a $5 coupon to anyone who gets a flu vaccine at their pharmacy. Yes, you read that right. FIVE dollars. You know what you can get with five dollars? That’s 4.2 packs of gum. It’s 16 ounces of Haribo gummy bears. It’s TWO bottles of Sinful Colors nail polish. Sure, that’s the brand that gets goopy by the second wear, but that’s also NOT THE POINT. Get your bag, readers!