JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Getting a flu or pneumonia vaccine can help in the fight against the coronavirus, according to a Northeast Florida infectious disease doctor.
“We know that the flu vaccine decreases influenza-related medical visits by 2.3 million per year,” said Dr. Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease specialist. “If, of all seasons, this season is just so important. You want your body to have as much protection against infections in general. This season is more important just because you don’t want to have to go into the clinic or go into the hospital if you can prevent it given the pandemic of COVID-19.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions.
“It takes about two weeks for it to build up,” Reza explained.
The flu season begins in October and November and runs through March.
“That vaccine to get right now is a good idea because it will give your protection,” Reza said. “The other interesting part is, if I get the vaccine today, a lot of people will tell me, ’I got the vaccine and I got sick.’ So it’s a dead vaccine. It can’t cause you to have flu. What it’s going to do is it may make your body feel a little bit achy because what it’s doing is faking your body into thinking it has the flu, so it is making those antibodies, that military, that army that your body needs to fight off this infection if it does come exposed to it.”
Reza is also encouraging those who are eligible to get a pneumococcal vaccine. According to Reza, this also could help prevent comorbidities from COVID-19, as well.
The CDC recommends all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 and older receive a pneumococcal vaccine.
“The other big thing is wearing a mask,” Reza said. “Wearing a mask is still just so important to decrease rates of transmission of this virus, along with handwashing and social distancing measures.”