Why you need a Flu Shot during the COVID-19 pandemic
Winter is knocking on our door and it’s brought two guests, COVID-19 and the flu.
The prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities makes it imperative that you get a flu shot this year. We hope this article will clarify how vaccines work, how the flu vaccine relates to COVID-19, and why it’s absolutely necessary that you get your flu shot this year.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines train your immune system to recognize and fight against viruses and bacteria. They do this by introducing altered forms of certain molecules called antigens from the virus or bacteria into the body which triggers an immune response. This early introduction of antigens into the body allows your immune system to respond quickly and attack the antigens if they ever enter your body, which can help prevent you from getting sick.
You may have heard the idea of community protection, often referred to as “herd immunity” or “community immunity”. Vaccines work to protect entire communities from sickness. After enough people receive the vaccine, the chance that an outbreak will occur becomes increasingly low. With minimal outbreaks, those who are unable to get vaccinated will be protected as well. If a virus or bacteria can’t find enough people to infect, it will eventually die out entirely. This method of protecting our communities is the reason flu shots and other vaccines are so heavily encouraged and required in some public settings.
How does this relate to COVID-19 and flu shots?
Unlike COVID-19, there are accessible, safe vaccines to help prevent you getting the flu. Under normal circumstances, our healthcare system is able to handle the influx of influenza cases during flu season, however, with COVID-19 putting a strain on our hospitals and clinics, the combination of flu and COVID-19 patients could very easily overwhelm our healthcare system.
In addition, there is an overlap regarding the people who are considered high-risk of critical illness from COVID-19 and the flu. If too few people get vaccinated, people at risk of complications with COVID-19 and the flu will be in even more danger.
Will getting the flu shot increase my risk of getting Coronavirus?
No, getting the flu shot will not increase your risk of getting Coronavirus. You can read more about Public Health Ontario’s research and study surrounding this topic here. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/research/2020/05/research-skowronski–influenza-vaccine-risk-coronavirus-non-influenza-respiratory-viruses.pdf?la=en
If a COVID-19 vaccine is created, will getting a flu shot impact its effectiveness?
No, it will not impact the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine. Different vaccines are made to stimulate immunity against different strains of viruses.
Where can I get a flu shot?
The Student Wellness Centre will host a flu shot clinic(s) on October 21, 22, and 29 on the ground floor of the Peter George Centre for Living and Learning (PGCLL). This flu clinic is free and will have extra precautions taken to ensure the health and safety of all participants.
Important information to keep everyone safe
To get your flu shot this year, you must register for an appointment and complete your consent form prior to attending the clinic. You will also need to complete the COVID-19 self-assessment screening before coming to the flu clinic at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/
Register for the flu shot clinic: https://wellness.mcmaster.ca/program/flu-shot-clinic/
Please do not come to the flu clinic if you are unwell.
You must sanitize your hands and wear a mask in the clinic. You will NOT be allowed into the clinic without a mask. Please pick up a mask at the campus store if you do not have one.
Most communities make flu shots available through local pharmacies, walk-in clinics, and medical centres. Should you not be able to attend McMaster’s flu shot clinic, visit a local site to get your flu shot or call the SWC to make an appointment.
Flu Vaccines doesn’t increase risk of coronavirus or other respiratory viruses
Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2020 – 2021 northern hemisphere influenza season
Why COVID 19 means you need a flu shot
Getting a flu shot during the COVID 19 era
Public Health Ontario – COVID 19