Why Is It Important to Get the Flu Vaccine During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

With SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continuing to spread during influenza season, Dr. Paul Offit explains why it’s more important than ever to get an influenza vaccine this year.


Why is it important to get the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This coming year — more than ever — it's important to get an influenza vaccine. Here's why.

When SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, came into the United States, it started to cause hospitalizations and deaths in March, and then have just increased since then. Influenza on the other hand is a winter disease. So, usually influenza starts October, November; it starts to peak December, January, February, March; it starts to come down by March and April. So, therefore, this past year, in 2020, those were sequential infections. In other words, the influenza virus started then came down, and then SARS-CoV-2 came up.

That's not going to be true in this coming year. In this coming year, those two viruses are going to circulate at the same time. Therefore, it's much more likely that this coming year that we are once again going to experience increased hospitalizations and increased deaths, and possibly overwhelm the healthcare system.

So now more than ever, it's important to get an influenza vaccine so that we can at least lessen what has been called by many people the ‘twindemic,’ where both of those viruses will circulate at the same time.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Nov 11, 2020