Health experts are urging everyone to obtain flu shots this year, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Dr. William Ellert, chief medical officer at Abrazo Health, said getting vaccinated against the flu is easy and a proven way to protect people from one of the world’s most common illnesses. Receiving a flu shot reduces someone’s risk of contracting the flu or influenza by 50 to 80-percent, Ellert said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said acquiring a flu shot is the greatest protection against this illness. The CDC recommends everyone ages six months and older who does not have specific medical conditions that would be exacerbated by the vaccine accept a flu shot.

Ellert said the flu shot also reduces the particularly dangerous mix of the flu and COVID-19 co-infection, which has already been observed in some patients. A CDC study of the severe flu season of 2017-18 revealed that flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.2 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million flu-associated medical visits, 91,000 influenza-affiliated hospitalizations and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths.

Ellert said while there has been an improvement in the hospitalizations related to COVID-19, “we are definitely not out of the woods and at risk for resurgence.” Residents can protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the flu shot, ensuring that the Valley’s healthcare system does not become overwhelmed in the flu season while healthcare providers keep fighting the Coronavirus.

Besides obtaining flu shots, people also can take other steps to try to protect themselves from contracting the flu by avoiding close contact with other people, especially anyone who is sick. You also can try to stay healthy by covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; as well as washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.

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