Samira Wiley Says Getting a Flu Shot Is ‘So Important’ During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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For Samira Wiley, getting an annual flu shot has always been important. But this year, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, she says that it is more critical than ever.

Experts predict an upcoming “twindemic” between the flu and the coronavirus in the fall and winter. “These two things are going to be happening at the same time,” Wiley, 33, tells PEOPLE. “Getting a flu shot is so important because our health care system can’t handle everything that would be happening if everyone didn’t get the flu shot.”

Noting that her family always made sure that she got a flu shot ever since she was little, Wiley says they set an important example.

“It has always been so important for me to get the flu shot to make sure that not only am I safe, but of course, anyone that I come into contact with is safe.”

Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, agrees. “If people get the flu vaccine, they are much less likely to get sick, or they will have a substantially less severe infection and so are less likely to be hospitalized, go to the ICU or die,” he tells PEOPLE.

“We need as many people as possible vaccinated against flu this fall. It’s not only important to protect yourself, but to take some of the strain off the healthcare system which is going to be hit by both COVID-19 and flu.”

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About a Possible Coronavirus Vaccine

Gary Gershoff/Getty Samira Wiley

The Orange Is the New Black actress has teamed up with Walgreens for their new campaign “Defend Your Crew Against the Flu.” In the ad, the Emmy-winning star says, “This isn’t just a bandage. It’s a badge of honor, of care, of respect, because it means you fight for the safety of those you love.”

“You become a flu-fighter,” she says at the end of the video. “Do your part and defend your crew against the flu.”

RELATED VIDEO: Walgreens’ Defend Your Crew Against the Flu Ad

Walgreens’ Defend Your Crew Against the Flu Ad

A 30-second ad for Walgreens’ Defend Your Crew Against the Flu Ad with voiceover talent done by Samira Wiley

Wiley says she worked on the ad in her closet, turning it into a recording booth.

“In this time of COVID, I think normally for a project like this I would be able to go in and meet people and be in a recording booth. But unfortunately, because of the time that we’re living in, things are done a little different these days.” 

“That’s exactly another reason everyone is looking forward to when we can leave our closets and leave our homes and be able to interact with each other in the real world on the outside like we used to,” she says.

RELATED: Several States May Require Kids to Get a Flu Vaccine Ahead of Coronavirus School Reopenings

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