This year’s influenza season and the COVID-19 pandemic may represent “a looming double threat for the health of Americans,” according to a new joint statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), American Lung Association (ALA) and American Diabetes Association. To combat that risk, they wrote that all patients should get make sure they get a flu shot as soon as possible.
Forty-eight percent of adults in the U.S. were vaccinated during the 2019-2020 flu season, and the groups emphasized that “urgent action” is needed to improve that number for the 2020-2021 season.
“Vaccinations can save lives, and are an important step to protect not only your own health, but to also prevent the spread of disease to those who might be more vulnerable, such as those with chronic lung diseases,” Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer of the ALA, said in the statement. “COVID-19 has been a reminder of the vital importance of lung health. And while we still await the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, we already have available a safe and effective vaccine for influenza—the flu shot. I encourage all Americans, and especially adults with chronic health conditions, to get their flu shot this year and every year.”
“The flu is a serious matter, and it can be prevented,” added Eduardo Sanchez, MD, chief medical officer of the AHA. “Getting the flu can lead to complications with bad consequences, including intensive care and death, especially for people with cardiovascular disease. In fact, several studies have found that individuals with heart disease are six to ten times more likely to have a heart attack following a bout of the flu. Flu vaccination should be part of routine medical care for all individuals but especially so for those with heart disease.”