Get your flu shot. It’s even more important as we battle COVID-19

Ruth Carrico and Delanor Manson, Opinion contributors
Published 6:50 a.m. ET Oct. 1, 2020 | Updated 8:21 a.m. ET Oct. 1, 2020

The Kentucky Nurses Association encourages all residents to be vaccinated against influenza, stay current on recommended vaccinations and be prepared to be vaccinated against COVID-19 upon FDA release.

Immunization is one of the most important public health interventions in history. Protection of the public through access to vaccine is second only to protection afforded through availability of clean drinking water.  Vaccinations have saved the lives of countless millions across the United States and the globe. 

Preventing illness, disability and death through vaccination is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a basic human right. As nurses, we are dedicated to protecting our patients, our families and our communities. We demonstrate this dedication by our support of immunization.

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This commitment to immunization has always been critical, but it is even more so as we battle COVID-19.  The severity of current COVID-19 and its short- and long-term consequences are a direct demonstration of the need to preserve health, so individuals have the best opportunities to withstand the impact of this ferocious virus. To do this, we must prevent what we can so individuals are not battling COVID-19 while at the same time battling an illness that may have been prevented through immunization. 

Delanor Manson is the executive director for Kentucky Nurses Association and the Kentucky Nurses Foundation in Louisville. (Photo: provided)

As nurses and members of the Kentucky Nurses Association, it’s up to us to encourage all residents of the commonwealth to get flu shots before we begin to see that virus in our communities and to stay current on all CDC recommended vaccinations.

We must work in the communities we serve to promote access to:

  • all age-appropriate routine vaccines across the population,
  • vaccination against influenza (the flu) throughout the entire flu season,
  • other vaccines relevant to changes in our health condition or our activities, and
  • COVID-19 vaccine beginning with clinical trials and when the FDA-approved vaccine is released for the population.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the WHO have raised alarms regarding the tremendous reduction in routine immunization rates that have occurred since the beginning of 2020.  Access to care and to vaccines have been interrupted and the result is a severe impact on the ability of children and adults to access, and be encouraged to receive, vaccines. Not only is our United States population at risk for resurgence of diseases such as measles, chickenpox, pertussis and meningitis, this risk is magnified due to vaccination interruption around the world.  

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We encourage all Kentuckians to catch up and be current with recommended immunizations according to published CDC vaccination schedules. To learn more, visit 

The need for all Kentuckians to be vaccinated against influenza cannot be overstated. Although the flu vaccine does not prevent COVID-19, it may well prevent serious consequences if co-infection occurs and may prevent death or serious illness due to COVID-19 simply due to the ability of that virus to take advantage of underlying health conditions and vulnerabilities. Our devotion to vaccination will be critical as COVID-19 vaccines become available either through clinical trials or through broad availability under the direction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Get a flu shot at your primary care provider’s office, pharmacy, specialist clinic or contact your local health department for more options. Vaccinations such as this give all Kentuckians the best chance for good health outcomes this fall and winter.

Ruth Carrico is president of the Kentucky Nurses Association Board of Directors, and Delanor Manson is chief executive officer of the Kentucky Nurses Association.

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