With the global focus on COVID-19 vaccinations, it’s easy to push aside another preventative measure that should be at the center of the conversation right now: the seasonal flu vaccine.

Some people may assume that, because they’re protected from the more deadly virus, they can skip the everyday, garden-variety flu vaccine. Other folks may struggle to find the time to make yet one more health-related appointment … or remember to get it at all. And vaccine hesitancy and skepticism may be fueled by concern about flu vaccines targeting the wrong strains of flu.

But it’s definitely worth getting the flu vaccine. If we look beyond the fear and weariness to the cold, hard facts, there are compelling reasons for most everyone to get the flu vaccination — and if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late. Flu season can extend into May.

The benefits of getting a flu shot are clearly supported by research. In addition to keeping you from getting sick and reducing risk of severe illness, a flu shot can also protect higher risk populations like pregnant people, children, and people with chronic conditions.

If you are vigilant about getting your flu shot, you’re in good company. During the 2018-2019 flu season,* 169 million seasonal flu vaccines were distributed in the U.S. Translated: Of people 6 months and older,  49 percent were vaccinated.

In the graphic below, you can see that flu season’s vaccination numbers broken down by state, along with a few fast facts.

We can credit those vaccinated good Samaritans with amazing stats like these: In the 2019–2020 flu season, vaccination prevented 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and over 6,300 deaths in the U.S.

On the flip side, however, 51 percent of the U.S. population did not get vaccinated against the flu.

That reluctance to get immunized can have dire consequences. The CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in 52,000 deaths and 720,000 hospitalizations annually in the past decade.

Below, you can see the number of flu deaths from the same flu season represented in the vaccination graphic above.

The good news is that attitudes toward vaccines are shifting, and more people than ever before are willing to get their shot. For the 2020-2021 flu season, the estimated vaccine coverage rate for people 6 months and older is 52.1 percent.

You can do your part by spreading the word and remembering to schedule that seasonal flu vaccination every year.

*This data is from 2018-2019 because more recent flu numbers have been impacted by COVID-19.