2021-2022 Flu Season: What Millennials Need to Know

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By: Melissa Schenkman, MPH, MSJ

What packs a healthy punch and can be found at every grocery store in the fall?

Your first thought might be pumpkin and its close relative pumpkin spice, but what I’m talking about is what will enable you to stay well and enjoy your fall, including all of your favorite pumpkin products: flu shots.

Flu shots are available at almost every major grocery store chain in the country, making it easy to get one. Plus, do a very millennial thing—multitask.

No matter where you choose to get your vaccine this year, it’s a shot of protection each of us need, especially when we are living pandemic times.

Minji Kang, MD, is the Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her background is in infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship.

As the 2021-2022 Flu Season kicks-off this month, infectious disease specialist and fellow millennial, 34-year-old, Minji Kang, MD, shares with us what’s unique about this season and why we should make the time to get our flu shots.

YMyHealth:  We have been hearing that this flu season will be far worse than last one. What are you and your colleagues forecasting and why?

Dr. Kang: Flu is predictably unpredictable. So, we do not always know what to expect. While there was very low flu activity during the 2020-2021 flu season due to COVID-19 mitigation measures such as wearing face masks, social distancing, reduced travel, and school closures, we fear that with decreased adherence to pandemic precautions, we will likely see more flu activity this season.

Since children are now back in schools, fewer individuals are wearing masks, and there is less physical distancing with increased social activities and gatherings, we anticipate a more robust season.

We could also see a double whammy this winter with both flu and COVID-19.

YMyHealth: Why is it particularly important to get a flu shot for the 2021-2022 flu season? Why would you recommend that your fellow millennials take a few moments out of their day to get one?

Dr. Kang: Protection from flu and flu-related hospitalizations will be especially important since COVID-19 is still making people sick in our community. Getting the flu shot not only protects you but protects your family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else around you who may be more vulnerable. 

YMyHealth: Many millennials think that because they are young and healthy, they are immune to the flu. The thought process has been similar for some when it comes to COVID-19 and its vaccine. What would you say to those millennials about getting a flu shot this season?

Dr. Kang:  It is true that severe flu that can lead to hospitalization and death are seen less frequently in healthy millennials but more in older people, children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems. However, flu can cause hospitalization and death even in healthy millennials. And even if you get sick with the flu, your symptoms are likely to be milder if you got the flu shot. 

Above all, everyone, including those with very mild symptoms, can be a flu spreader and can infect a more vulnerable person.  Ultimately, flu shots benefit you and those around you. 

YMyHealth: When would it be too late to get a flu shot during the 2021-2022 season?

Dr. Kang:  Ideally, you should receive your flu shot by September or October so that you can be protected for the entire flu season. However, it is never too late to get the flu vaccine. As long as flu virus is going around in your community, it is worth getting vaccinated against it. Generally, cases of flu typically peak between December and February, but flu virus spreads differently ever year, usually beginning in November and can go as late as May. 

For more information on the 2021-2022 flu season that’s relevant to millennials, visit our flu season page.

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