With COVID-19 dominating the headlines, you might have put off your season flu shot. But getting a flu vaccine is more important in 2020 than ever before. Not just for you, but for every person in your family.
According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, 1 in 3 parents don’t plan to get their children vaccinated against seasonal flu this year, which scientists and doctors say is troubling as influenza and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms. “Our report finds that even during the pandemic, some parents don’t see the flu vaccine as more urgent or necessary. This heightens concerns about how the onset of flu season may compound challenges in managing COVID-19,” says Sarah Clark, MPH, co-director of the Mott Poll.
According to Clark, if people avoid getting a yearly flu shot, it could cause spikes of the flu and COVID-19 to happen at the same time. “That could overwhelm the health care system, strain testing capacity, and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively,” she says. The good news is this can be easily prevented by getting vaccinated as soon as possible—something experts say is safe, even during a pandemic.
“I think it will be pretty safe to get one at doctor’s office or pharmacy,” says Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “Both have adapted to COVID, and doctors’ offices will probably have days that they only do flu shots, so you are not around other people who are there when they are ill. And they have good standards in place for social distancing and pre-screening.”
For children 6 months and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the flu vaccine by the end of October. (If you miss the deadline, don’t worry—just get it as soon as you’re able.) While adults typically get the flu shot, children may be given the vaccine as a injection or a nasal spray. One important thing to note is that many states have a minimum age requirement for getting a flu vaccine at a pharmacy, so if your child is too young, they can receive it at a doctor’s appointment instead.
Below, you’ll find a list of places throughout the United States offering the vaccine. If you more specific information about where to get the flu vaccine within your area, use Vaccine Finder, an online tool recommended by the CDC.
Where to get the flu shot this year
Flu vaccines are available at Walmart locations nationwide, and you can schedule an appointment online. If your child is too young to get a flu vaccine at Walmart (which depends on your location), make an appointment with a local health-care provider.
Walgreens offers flu vaccines to anyone 3 years old and over. Call ahead to ensure your state doesn’t have an age restriction. You can easily set up an appointment online.
3. CVS Pharmacy
The flu vaccine is available at CVS locations nationwide. Certain states have age limitations, and the information about age restrictions is available online. If your child is too young to get a vaccine at a pharmacy, they can get it from their pediatrician.
You can get a flu vaccine while you shop by stopping by Target’s pharmacy, which is run by CVS Pharmacy. (You’ll get a $5 coupon to shop, too.) Find a pharmacy near you, and call ahead to ensure there aren’t age restrictions in your state.
Planned Parenthood offers the flu vaccine as part of its general health-care services. Call the location nearest to you to ensure it’s available in your area and that there aren’t any age restrictions for children in your state.
Costco offers seasonal flu vaccines for the entire family, and you can get it without being a member. Call before reserving your appointment, as there are age restrictions that vary by state.
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