Heart, lung, diabetes associations urge flu, COVID-19 vaccines ahead of flu season
Three associations are urging eligible individuals to receive their annual flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine in order to reduce hospital burden and protect the vulnerable ahead of flu season.
The American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Diabetes Association issued the statement.
According to a press release from the AHA, patients with cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes and heart disease are at a higher risk for severe complications from serious respiratory diseases like the flu and COVID-19. According to the CDC, both vaccines can reportedly be safely given in the same visit.
“The best way to protect yourself and those close to you from a bad case of the flu and a severe bout of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated against each of them,” Eduardo Sanchez, MD, the AHA’s chief medical officer for prevention, said in the release. “We know these vaccines work. We know these vaccines are safe. And we know you’re much more likely to regret it if you don’t get them than if you do. Please don’t leave your health or your family’s health up to chance when there are safe vaccines widely available in the U.S.”
According to the release, the 2021 to 2022 flu season could be severe and begin early, meaning that preventing the flu is an important step in relieving overcrowded hospitals and protecting vulnerable and at-risk people. With the flu reportedly in the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., the associations recommend everyone over 6 months old receive the flu shot and everyone 12 years or older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“People with diabetes have been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic — with as many as 40% of all COVID-19 deaths occurring in people with diabetes,” Robert Gabbay, MD, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association, said in the release. “The flu is also significantly worse for people with diabetes and therefore, we strongly recommend getting both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines to protect your health if you are eligible. We need to all work together to keep our loved ones healthy.”
Getting vaccinated “is especially important for health care workers and people who are at a higher risk for severe complications from the flu and COVID-19, like people over 65 and those living with chronic health conditions,” Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, said in the release. “Flu vaccinations have been in use for more than 50 years, with hundreds of millions of Americans safely receiving them, and more than 390 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been safely administered.”