Flu Shots and Asbestos Exposure — Taking Action Before Symptoms Arise

an older person about to get a flu shot

Each fall, the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) strongly advises people to get their flu shot because it is shown to reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization, and death.

Preventing people from getting sick or going to the hospital is especially significant during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19.

This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever.”

— The Centers for Disease and Prevention

The flu contributes to tens of thousands of lives lost each year, to say nothing of people who suffer severe cases that require a hospital stay. Every person who stays healthy because they received the flu vaccine represents an open bed and freed-up hospital staff to support patients battling COVID-19.

This year, people who get their flu shot are protecting far more than just themselves and their immediate family.

The CDC has been working with manufacturers to have extra flu vaccines available during this time. The agency recommended getting a flu shot in September or October, but a person can benefit from getting vaccinated anytime during flu season.

To find a location where flu shots are available, people can use VaccineFinder or reach out to their primary care provider.

Don’t Wait For Symptoms To Take Action

Everyone is paying extra close attention for “common cold” symptoms this year.

Similar to the flu, the first signs of COVID-19 often include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Other seemingly minor warning signs

Getting a flu shot early in the season is most effective. There is no reason to wait for symptoms to show first. If someone gets the flu, they should wait for their illness to subside, and then get a flu shot to prevent a second illness from another strain of the virus.

The flu is a contagious illness that attacks the respiratory system, and certain populations are at high risk of developing serious complications if they get sick.

This includes:

  • Children under 2 years of age
  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Those with chronic health conditions

People who have a compromised respiratory system, such as mesothelioma patients, need to be especially cautious with regards to the flu and COVID-19.

Mesothelioma is a rare and incurable cancer that often affects the lungs. While the CDC recommends that most cancer patients get a flu shot, those with mesothelioma should consult with their doctor first to see if the vaccine will interfere with their treatment.

Friends, family, and other caregivers should make it a point to get their flu shot so as to reduce the risk of transmitting the illness to the mesothelioma patient.

Flu and COVID-19 Symptoms May Mask Mesothelioma

When people with mesothelioma first start to feel sick, they usually think it’s something else.
People develop mesothelioma after they are exposed to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was incorporated into products for decades.

Most often, people unknowingly inhale or ingest microscopic asbestos fibers, which get lodged in the lining of the lung. After exposure to asbestos, it can take 20-50 years for mesothelioma to develop.

The disease’s long latency period, and the fact that most people don’t know if they were exposed to asbestos, are two of the many factors that make mesothelioma difficult to diagnose.

Additionally, the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma that lead people to visit their doctor are very similar to the common cold, flu, and COVID-19.

These may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Talk To Your Doctor About Asbestos Exposure

An accurate mesothelioma diagnosis is the result of multiple imaging tests and biopsies. If someone knows that they might have been exposed to asbestos, it is absolutely crucial to share their health history with their doctor.

Because it is so rare, doctors are not going to assume that a person has mesothelioma. They may never have encountered the disease before, and there are other much more likely causes for the symptoms people show at first.

However, if a person tells their doctor that they may have been exposed to asbestos, this will help the doctor make a more informed decision.

Doctors can then order imaging tests, like a chest X-ray or PT/CAT scan, to see if there is evidence of effusion or tumors. This way, they can rule out mesothelioma or gather the evidence they need for further testing.

While all Americans can potentially suffer from asbestos exposure, certain groups have greater cause for concern.

This includes:

People in these groups need to discuss their work experience with their doctor. If the doctor is not receptive, patients should feel encouraged to seek a second opinion, preferably from a cancer specialist.

Help Is Available for Mesothelioma Patients

Because so many veterans have been affected by asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) makes multiple forms of compensation available.

Eligible veterans can apply for VA Benefits, which include health care, Aid & Assistance, and compensation to help the veteran and their dependents move forward.

Although veterans make up a large segment of those who suffer from mesothelioma, others who worked in high-risk occupations continue to get sick as well.

Family members exposed to “take-home” asbestos, which working family members unknowingly brought home from the factory or job site, are also in danger.

If you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation.

These funds can help pay for:

  • Medical bills associated with fighting cancer
  • Lost wages
  • Other expenses

Call us today for a free legal case review.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: November 6, 2020

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, October 23) What Are the Benefits of Flu Vaccination? Retrieved November 4, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, November 2) Flu Season. Retrieved November 4, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/index.html
  3. Boston Children’s Hospital, et al. (2020) Vaccine Finder. Retrieved November 4, 2020, from https://vaccinefinder.org/
  4. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, September 1) Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines. Retrieved November 4, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm