CDC says 2021 flu shot is vital as another COVID-19 winter nears

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is advising the public to get their annual flu shot as summer reaches its end and the influenza season nears. Unlike past years, this winter is expected to bring a large number of COVID-19 cases and, if people don't get vaccinated, flu cases at the same time, increasing concerns about whether hospitals will be able to keep up.

The flu vaccine is an important step in protecting oneself self against the respiratory disease; though you may still catch the flu after getting vaccinated, the resulting illness's severity is typically reduced substantially, according to the CDC.

It's impossible to say how well the vaccines will work each flu season due to the various influenza viruses that make their way around. However, the CDC highlights multiple past studies that have found getting vaccinated against the flu reduces one's odds of ending up hospitalized due to influenza.

That is particularly important as this winter season is expected to bring an uptick in COVID-19 cases due to a combination of the highly infectious Delta variant and the decrease in mask and social distancing mandates. Many hospitals have already reported reaching capacity when it comes to ICU patients, an issue compounded by an increasing shortage among nurses.

Beyond that, this past summer saw a spike in cases involving non-SARS coronaviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Summer is outside of the typical season for these viruses to spread, fueling concerns that there may be atypically high numbers of cases involving them this winter season, particularly around the holidays.