Society of Bioethics and Medicine
The Flu Shot in the Time of the Pandemic
By Razna Ahmed, Edited by - Elizabeth Badalov
A movement of anti-vaccine proponents is emerging across the United States. It’s a movement that largely gained an audience through social media and the spread of misinformation about the way vaccines work. While the majority of people vaccinate themselves and their children, there are still clusters of people unwilling to be vaccinated. As the flu season approaches, Americans must again consider getting the flu vaccine. However, in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, when healthcare resources are stretched thin, what does this mean, and how important is it?
The masks we are required to wear and the stay-at-home measure may help stop the flu from spreading as it has with Covid-19, but experts at the CDC stress that vaccination is the best way to prevent getting the flu. In the age of the coronavirus, ‘“It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19, and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve health care resources,’ said Dr. Lawrence Madoff, medical director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in an article for USA Today.
Building confidence in the flu virus is one of the main goals that challenge this public necessity. Some Americans, while not anti-vaxxers, are unwilling to get the flu vaccine because of a belief that the vaccine is ineffective, or that they may be better off without it because they were able to forgo it in previous years. They may even correlate being vaccinated with being infected with the flu. However, the flu vaccine has been administered “for many decades, and they are almost universally safe", according to Dr. Albert Ko, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Yale School of Public Health. Furthermore, symptoms of the flu are identical to those of Covid-19 and require the same equipment (ex. ventilators) for treatment, and there is no way to predict what can happen if an individual is infected with both, according to Science Magazine. Therefore, according to expert advice, it is more important than ever for everyone to get the flu shot before October and avoid the possibility of healthcare professionals and those infected to be fighting both viruses at the same time.