The fall and winter seasons bring with them a third, unwanted partner: flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2019-2020 flu season had: 24,000-62,000 flu deaths, 410,000-740,000 flu hospitalizations and 39,000,000-56,000,000 flu illnesses.

Dr. Jay Balachandran

While flu season typically has many burdens for different individuals, this year’s health concerns are heightened due to COVID-19. Jay Balachandran, MD with Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s, explains why getting your flu shot is more important now than ever.

“With everything going on this year, getting the flu shot gives you one less thing to worry about,” Dr. Balachandran said. “And during a time when we all feel a lack of control over events, getting the flu shot is an action that really does help your family and your community.”

Flu shots are typically covered by Medicare and other health insurances, and most people experience little or no reaction to the flu shot. Learn more about the flu shot from the American Lung Association.

The flu poses risk for all individuals, but both adults and children with asthma are at risk for additional complications that accompany the flu. Even if asthma symptoms are well controlled, people with asthma can potentially develop serious complications such as asthma attacks, worsening asthma symptoms, swollen airways and more. To learn more about the burden of asthma in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin Asthma Initiative’s website.

When thinking about how to protect yourself from the flu, getting the flu vaccination is the best option. Adults and children that are at high risk of developing serious complications, such as those with asthma, are strongly encouraged to get their flu shot. Besides getting your flu shot, it is important to remember to wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and avoid large gatherings.

Learn more about the flu from the CDC.