cartoon super hero arm with band aid and the word FLUThis National Influenza Vaccination Week — Dec. 6-12 — with COVID-19 surging and hospitals strained, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated against the flu.

“We’re a couple months into flu season, but it’s certainly not too late to get your flu shot,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, APHA's executive director. “It not only protects you and the people around you from preventable illness, it also helps limit the impact on local hospitals and health responders, who face an overwhelming situation with both the influenza and COVID-19 viruses in circulation.”

While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of Americans each year. During the 2019-2020 U.S. flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 38 million people became sick with flu, 400,000 people were hospitalized with the illness and 22,000 people died.

The flu is a respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness. People ages 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and infants and people with certain health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, face a heightened risk of serious flu complications.

Fortunately, the same precautions people are taking against COVID-19 — such as wearing face masks, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing — can help keep the flu away, too, Benjamin said. But your best chance at staying flu-free is still getting a flu shot.

Find a flu shot provider near you with CDC’s Vaccine Finder. APHA's Get Ready campaign also offers a number of resources to help people prepare themselves for an array of disasters and health hazards, including flu season.