For years, Jeri Stuart didn’t get a flu shot. Now, the 54-year-old breast cancer survivor does not want to gamble with her health.
She got her flu shot last week.
“My mother always hounded me to get them done,” she said. “I figured, you know what, let’s just get everything that we can to ensure that I don’t get sick.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone 6 months and older to also get their flu shot. Public health officials are worried about a false sense of security after two milder flu seasons due to COVID precautions.
Australia, which experiences winter ahead of the U.S., just had its worst flu season in five years.
“I don’t want to be alarmist, but I am concerned. We know that it’s going to be a strain of flu that tends to be more severe,” said Dr. Michael Phillips, an infectious disease expert at NYU Langone Health. “For those ages greater than 65, there’s a specific formulations of vaccines that you should get and it dramatically reduces the likelihood of hospitalization and death.”
Less than half of U.S. adults plan to get a flu shot this year and just a third feel safe getting a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, according to a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey.
Stuart opted for both a flu shot and the bivalent COVID booster, which the CDC says can be safely given together.
“If it’s something that’s going to help lessen symptoms, then every little bit helps,” she said.
Flu season typically starts in October, peaks in December through February and can last into the spring. Like COVID vaccines, the flu shot may not stop you from getting infected, but the CDC says it can significantly lower the risk of hospitalization and death.