WESTWOOD, Calif. – Brenden Healy didn’t even flinch as a flu shot was jabbed into his upper arm. 

“Not too bad,” he said of the slight pinch.

The recent UCLA grad gets the influenza vaccine every year.  

What You Need To Know

  • Officials say everyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated

  • L.A. Mayor Garcetti is worried about a flu-COVID "twindemic"

  • Heathcare providers say the best time to get the flu shot is before October 31

  • This season, manufacturers are expected to produce as many as 198 million doses of the flu vaccine

“Cause my mom told me I should,” he laughed.

But this year, it’s extra important. With flu season on the horizon and the ongoing pandemic, health officials are hoping to curtail what could be a double whammy, or what Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti refers to as a “twindemic.”  

Adam Aisner is a nurse practitioner with CVS MinuteClinic. He says the combination of COVID and influenza could overwhelm our already overtaxed health care system.

“The hospitals are inundated with COVID-19 patients,” he explained between a steady of patients, “so it’s important for us as the public to keep ourselves healthy and well so we can keep the hospitals free of flu patients so they can take their time to focus on the COVID-19 patients.

It’s seems many people have gotten the message.  So many that CVS expects to administer double the amount of flu shots this year than last.

“We’re already giving a lot more than we had given this time last year,” Aisner said, “so definitely a lot of people are coming in for their flu vaccines.”

Luckily there are plenty to go around. The CDC estimates there will be as many as 198 million doses available this season, an all-time high. 

There’s also the chance that this could be a relatively mild flu season because people are already taking extra precautions, like wearing masks.  

“Whether it be flu or COVID-19 or anything, it protects the droplets from getting onto other surfaces or onto other people,” Aisner said, adding that proper hand washing and social distancing are also effective strategies against both viruses..

But even with these new habits, health officials says it’s still important for anyone over the age of 6 months to get the vaccine, especially in vulnerable populations like seniors or people with compromised immune systems. 

As for fears that the flu shot can give you the flu, Adam says that’s a misconception. “It’s actually not a live vaccine, OK?” he said. “It’s an inactivated vaccine so they just take a piece of the protein from the virus and use that to make the vaccine. So it can’t actually make you sick.” 

He said side effects can include redness or soreness at the sight of the injection. 

Having gotten the shot year after year, Healy says he’s never had an issue. “Maybe some mild side effects,” he recalled, “but nothing too bad.”

And while he didn’t get a sticker, he left the MinuteClinic knowing he had listened to his mom and helped protect himself and his community from the spread of one virus on top of another.