By Marybeth Bock

It may still feel like it’s summer here in Arizona, but we all need to think ahead about the coming flu season this month. And make a plan to get a flu shot.

Why is getting vaccinated for the flu so critical in 2020? It’s never a good year to get the flu, but it will be especially bad this year, due to the COVID-19 virus still circulating in our communities. We can all do our part to reduce the burden on our already taxed healthcare system and workers.

This year, people who do come down with the flu will likely think they have COVID, as both share similar symptoms, like headache, fever, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. You also don’t want to risk dealing with both conditions at the same time, or spreading that risk to babies, older people, or those with compromised immune systems.

Here are some helpful things to remember if you are scared about getting a flu shot. Side effects are rare, and you can not catch the flu from getting vaccinated. Even though a flu vaccine is never 100% effective in preventing anyone from getting the flu, it greatly increases your chances of staying healthy, and it will lessen the severity of the illness, in the event you do get sick.

In the past, certain communities have had lower vaccination rates, such as among young adults, Black Americans, and Latinx. It’s essential for us to increase those numbers this year, and cities will be getting creative in the hopes more people will go out to get a flu shot. Look for drive-through locations and outdoor vaccine events if you are at all concerned about going into a medical facility – but remember that those places are sanitized well and often!

The months of September and October are the best months to get vaccinated, as it takes two full weeks to achieve full immunity. In most locations you can choose the regular flu shot, a nasal spray version, or a no-egg protein version in case you are allergic to the eggs that the vaccine is normally grown in.

Starting at the beginning of September, you can access the CDC’s Health Map Vaccine Finder link or call 211 or 311 to get information on locations near you.

So, find a convenient location, grab your family members and your masks, and go do your part this month to keep yourselves and your community healthy this flu season.


Marybeth Bock, MPH, has logged time as an Army wife, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Phoenix and you can find her writing on multiple parenting sites.