This year, the Hawai‘i State Department of Health is urging all eligible individuals to get a flu shot by the end of October.
“Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system,” said Immunization Branch Chief Ron Balajadia. “Getting your flu shot also helps to conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all individuals who are over 6 months of age. Vaccination of high-risk persons, including young children, pregnant women, persons 65 years of age and older, and people with certain chronic health conditions, is particularly important to decrease risk of severe flu illness.
From Oct. 1, 2019 to April 4, 2020, there were between 410,000 and 740,000 flu hospitalizations and between 24,000 and 62,000 flu deaths in the U.S. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea; similar to symptoms seen with COVID-19.
In addition to getting vaccinated, DOH encourages the public to continue frequent handwashing or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, physical distancing, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and staying home from work, school and social gatherings when sick.
“We can prevent both influenza and COVID-19 together by continuing to follow safe practices to prevent the spread of germs,” Balajadia said. “Remember to also avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and to frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and objects like door knobs, light switches and cell phones.”
For more information about the flu, visit https://health.hawaii.gov/docd/flu/.