Now, more than ever, you need to get a flu shot

November 24, 2020

Every year, you hear it from your healthcare provider and the Division of Public Health:  the best way to protect yourself from flu is to get an annual flu vaccine.  Flu vaccine protects you, your families and friends, your co-workers, and even people you don’t know from getting sick from the flu and developing complications like pneumonia.  Getting vaccinated also protects our healthcare workers who are on the front lines fighting COVID-19 while conserving healthcare supplies and other resources needed for the pandemic. 

All Delawareans 6 months of age and older should get their annual flu vaccine now if they have not already done so. Flu vaccines lower the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death by about half.  Fewer flu cases help healthcare providers recognize COVID-19.  To keep Sussex County healthiest by avoiding having people become ill with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, we need everyone to get their flu shot.

People of all ages, races, and ethnicities can get the flu.  Those most at risk from the flu are those with chronic conditions, adults 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old (especially infants and children younger than 2 years old), pregnant women and women up to two weeks after the end of pregnancy, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.  DPH recently announced the state’s first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2020-21 season in a Kent County child younger than age 5.  

DPH advises Delawareans who have chronic conditions to closely manage their health to avoid unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with these underlying conditions have a greater risk of having serious flu complications: asthma, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, neurologic conditions, obesity, and weakened immune systems.  Visit to read the entire list. 

Getting your flu vaccination only takes a few minutes, and you have many choices where to get one. They are available through your healthcare provider’s office and pharmacies statewide. Federally qualified health centers such as Westside Family Healthcare and La Red Health Center offer flu vaccine to their patients.  Uninsured or underinsured Delaware residents can get flu vaccines at DPH clinics by appointment and other community health centers in dozens of locations, or at dozens of free community flu clinics hosted by DPH and healthcare systems such as Beebe Healthcare and Westside Family Healthcare.  Visit to find flu vaccine locations near you.  

The CDC secured millions of extra pediatric and adult doses to help prevent flu vaccine shortages.  In Delaware, DPH has partnered with a dozen hospitals, healthcare networks, and associations to motivate Delawareans statewide to get their flu vaccines as soon as possible.   

Beebe Healthcare boosted its annual flu campaign to reach more Sussex Countians than ever before.  They encouraged people to attend their free flu clinics by car, by bike or on foot. Beebe’s “Vaccinate in 48” flu campaign was tremendously successful and offered the high-dose option for those 65 and older.  Beebe Healthcare has exceeded last year’s total of administered vaccinations by more than 800 with additional clinics still scheduled through the end of November.  For daily updates on flu vaccine availability, visit Beebe’s website and Facebook page or call the Beebe Community Flu Hotline:  302-291-6FLU.  It doesn’t matter where you go to get vaccinated; just get the shot! 

Here are important steps you need to take to fight flu:

• Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider for you and your family to get your flu vaccine or visit your local pharmacy to get vaccinated.

• If your insurance does not cover flu vaccine, visit to find a community flu clinic near you.

• Aim to get your flu vaccine as soon as possible. It takes two weeks for antibodies against the virus to build up.  

• Encourage friends and family to get their flu vaccine, especially those at higher risk.

• Read more about flu vaccine at  Share this website with anyone who is concerned about getting vaccinated against influenza.  

Flu vaccines are safe.  They don’t cause the flu, or any other disease or condition.  While the flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, increasing flu vaccinations has become a critical component of our work to stop the illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19.  Kudos to those who already got their flu shots!  If you are not yet vaccinated against the flu, please make it a priority.  You’ll be caring for yourself, protecting your loved ones, and safeguarding our community.

Karyl Thomas Rattay, MD, MS, is the director of the Division of Public Health within the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.  She is board-certified in Pediatrics and completed her pediatric residency at Georgetown University and a Preventive Medicine and Public Health Residency training program at the University of Maryland.  She earned a medical doctorate from the Medical University of Ohio and a master of science degree in epidemiology from the University of Maryland.   

David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, assumed the role of Beebe Healthcare president & CEO on March 17.  He is a distinguished and accomplished administrator and has experience as an officer in the U.S. Navy and in large public health systems.  He completed his pediatrics residency at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and a pediatric neurology fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.

  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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