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Why the flu shot matters

As the healthcare industry does everything it can to care for the rising number of COVID-19 patients in Oregon and across the country, the need to get the flu shot should not take a backseat. Along with protecting yourself against the seasonal flu, getting vaccinated can have other health benefits for individuals, communities and the healthcare system.

Because the flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses with many common symptoms, Moda Health Clinical Pharmacist, Emily Kemenyes, said many people could misinterpret their flu symptoms for COVID. This confusion can be avoided by getting the flu shot.

“Getting the flu vaccine can reduce the likelihood of catching the flu, where symptoms could get confused with COVID,” she said.

Protect yourself and your community
While COVID-19 vaccines are now being widely distributed, Kemenyes said it’s important to protect yourself and your community against any illnesses that we can. After all, the seasonal flu sends roughly 500,000 people to the hospital and kills between 30,000 to 60,000 Americans each year. Getting the flu shot does not protect you against COVID-19, but it can help reduce the number of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.

“The flu doesn’t target one population or another. It can hit anybody really hard and really fast,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and your community against viruses that we have a known strategy for. Getting the flu shot is one way each of us can help improve the health of our community and our population as a whole.”

Help ease the burden of COVID-19
Along with preventing yourself from getting or spreading the flu, the vaccine can also help ease the burden that COVID-19 currently has on the healthcare system. For example, when you get a flu shot, you:

  • Will not overwhelm the healthcare system: With the rise of COVID cases, many hospitals are meeting their capacity rates. Even in a mild flu season, this could overwhelm the healthcare system. Getting a flu shot can help lower the need for emergency room visits and overnight stays.
  • Lower the number of ICU patients: If COVID-19 related hospitalizations continue to rise, the need for available intensive care units is critical to helping those patients. The more people who get the flu shot will create more room in hospitals for COVID patients and others in need.
  • Help protect vulnerable populations: Both the flu and COVID-19 pose risks for people with underlying conditions. More vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and children, are better protected when more people get the flu vaccine.
  • Have milder flu symptoms: The flu can impact individuals in different ways. While the flu shot can help prevent the flu, even if you do get it, the vaccine can help lessen the severity of the illness and related symptoms.

A sense of community
By now, the phrase “We are all in this together” may be an overused cliché, but Kemenyes cannot emphasize how much the flu vaccine can help foster a sense of community during the pandemic.

“What better way is there to protect the health of our community than to get the flu vaccine?” she said. “The flu shot is a really valuable tool we have to protect ourselves and each other during normal times, and in a pandemic.”

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We have exciting news to share. ODS is changing its name to Moda Health.

Moda comes from the latin term "modus" and means "a way". We picked it because that's what we are here to do: help our communities find a way to better health.

Together, we can be more, be better.

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