In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging everyone over the age of 6 months to get an influenza vaccine this year.

Both the flu and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses that can lead to hospitalization for pneumonia and other serious – sometimes life-threatening – complications.

According to research conducted over multiple flu seasons, people who get the flu vaccine and still get sick have a 37% lower risk of being admitted to the hospital for treatment and an 82% lower risk of admission to an intensive care unit. Due to the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the hospital, it’s particularly important this year to keep flu cases out of hospitals.

After getting the flu shot, it takes about two weeks for the body to develop protection against the flu. That’s why it’s a good idea to get the vaccine before the flu starts to spread in your community.

According to the CDC, the vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick with the flu by 40% to 60%. The more people who get the vaccine, the better the chances are of preventing a large community outbreak.

The flu vaccine is covered by all health insurers without a cost share for members, and can be administered in a primary care physician’s office, urgent care center or pharmacy.

The things we are already doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – wearing a mask, keeping physically distant, washing our hands frequently and staying home – may also help to slow the spread of flu. But an effective, safe and accessible vaccine is an even more effective way to stop the spread of the flu.

For more information on where to get a flu vaccine, visit

Written by Jayne Schmitz, MIIA Wellness Project Manager