Between social distancing and mask wearing, we have been taking the necessary precautions to safeguard our health. But there’s one more important item that should be on our to-do lists. It’s the annual flu vaccination, and this year, it’s more important than ever.

The flu and COVID-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses. Although they’re caused by different viruses, these illnesses can look similar. Both present with fever, cough and body aches, and in many cases, examination and testing are needed to differentiate them. The vital distinction is this: while we don’t yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, we do have a vaccine to prevent influenza. If you don’t think that’s important, consider the numbers.

Each year, influenza hospitalizes between 410,000 and 740,000 Americans and kills 24,000 to 62,000 people, according to the CDC. While the flu is especially dangerous for anyone with underlying conditions, it can be serious for healthy people, too. In addition, if the flu occurs along with COVID-19 in the same individual, the combined effects could be devastating.

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These are important reasons to get vaccinated. Here’s what you need to know.

Most people who get the flu have not had the vaccine.

At Vanguard Medical Group alone, we see hundreds of cases of influenza every year. Of these cases, the majority of patients never received the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine varies from season to season depending on the most predominant flu strain. It not only reduces the occurrence of flu illnesses but also prevents flu-related hospitalizations. That’s key during a time when you want to stay away from potential exposure to COVID-19.

People with egg allergies and underlying conditions can get the flu shot safely.

Some people shy away from the vaccine, citing allergies or underlying conditions. That shouldn’t stop you from getting vaccinated. At Vanguard Medical Group, we offer safe vaccine formulations, including vaccines that are egg-free and preservative-free, formulations for infants, and high-dose flu vaccines for those over age 65. In fact, the CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get an annual flu shot – especially those at high risk for developing flu-related complications, including:

  • Children younger than five years old
  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Healthcare workers
  • People with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, blood disorders and kidney disorders

Flu season is upon us. Get safely vaccinated curbside or in office.

This year, at Vanguard Medical Group, we’re offering options for curbside vaccinations at some of our locations, as well as our traditional in-office appointments. Importantly, we are taking all proper precautions, following CDC guidelines to ensure your safety.

Here are some questions to consider when you schedule a flu vaccine:

  • What precautions is your provider taking to keep patients safe?
  • Can you fill out health forms online prior to the visit?
  • Can you go into the office to receive your flu shot, or does your provider offer curbside appointments?

Don’t delay. Check it off your list.

In the U.S., flu season occurs during the fall and winter months. However, it’s possible to contract influenza any time of year. The first – and most important – step to preventing the flu is getting the yearly flu vaccine.

I urge you to check this item off your to-do list. Safeguard yourself and your loved ones from this highly contagious disease. Schedule your annual flu shot today.

Existing patients and their families, as well as new patients, can make an appointment at Vanguard Medical Group locations, including our Cranford, NJ location.

Sarah Wistreich, D.O., Vanguard Medical Group, Cranford, NJ

Sarah Wistreich, D.O., is a family medicine physician based in the Cranford office of VMG. As part of her primary care focus, she works extensively in women’s health, pediatric and adolescent medicine. Dr. Wistreich takes a preventive care approach, looking at lifestyle and other influences that can affect health. She encourages good nutrition, not only with her patients but also with her own family. 908.272.7990

Photo credit:  Vanguard Medical Group