Healthy Tahoe: It’s more important than ever to get flu vaccination
The 2021-22 cold and flu season is again upon us at the same time as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to ensure we protect ourselves and others in our community by receiving timely vaccination against Influenza (flu) and COVID-19, if you have not already received your vaccine. Getting both vaccines will slow the spread of infection and lessen the impact on our local health resources this winter.
The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, and since they are different viruses, it is possible to have them both at the same time. COVID-19 transmission rates remain high in our area, and the flu strikes about 8% of Americans every year. Both the flu and COVID-19 can have severe medical complications which may result in hospitalization and death.
To reduce your risk of illness from the flu, the annual vaccine remains the most effective way to protect yourself. Flu vaccinations decrease flu-associated hospitalizations in adults by about 40%. While you may get the flu even if you get vaccinated, your symptoms will not be as severe and go away faster.
Medical experts strongly urge everyone ages six months and older to get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Contrary to popular misconceptions, a flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, instead the vaccine works by giving your immune system a heads up about what the flu virus ‘looks’ like, ensuring a faster and stronger immune system response. If you have questions or concerns about flu immunizations, speak with your care provider.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 infection are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. If you are concerned you or a loved one might have COVID-19 or the flu, call your primary care provider or visit an urgent care.
This cold and flu season, we can all do our part to prevent the spread of viruses in our community by wearing a face mask when indoors in public places or large outdoor gatherings, practicing good hand hygiene, and staying home when you are sick. Getting a flu vaccine, in addition to the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t had one, is another measure of prevention to protect yourself, your family, and your community.
Vaccines are widely available from local pharmacies and at some primary care offices. Additionally, El Dorado County Public Health is offering low-cost flu vaccines to the community from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at Bijou Community School.
Michelle Feeney, MSN, FNP is a family nurse practitioner at Stateline Urgent Care. To learn more about flu vaccinations or find an opportunity to receive the vaccine, visit BartonHealth.org/Flu.
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