Healthy Tahoe: It’s more important than ever to get flu vaccination
The 2020-21 cold and flu season is upon us in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now is the time to do everything we can to protect ourselves and others in our community.
Influenza (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. Both the flu and COVID-19 can have severe medical complications. Although there is no vaccine for COVID-19, flu shots are available to prevent disease and lessen the impact on local health resources this winter. Medical experts strongly urge everyone ages 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
The flu strikes about 8% of Americans every year. An annual vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself. Flu vaccinations reduce the risk for flu-associated hospitalizations in adults by about 40%. While you may get the flu even if you get vaccinated, your symptoms will be not as severe and go away faster. Contrary to popular misconceptions, a flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. If you have questions or concerns about flu immunizations, speak with your care provider.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. If you are concerned you or a loved one might have COVID-19, call Barton’s 24/7 COVID-19 Health Line: 530-600-1999.
We can all do our part to prevent the spread of viruses in our community, by wearing a face mask when outside the home, ensuring physical distance, and practicing good hand hygiene. Getting a flu vaccine is another measure of prevention, and more important than ever to protect yourself, your family and your community, while helping reduce the burden on local healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact your local pharmacy, primary care provider, or county health department for flu vaccine opportunities. Additionally, all are welcome at flu shot clinics hosted by El Dorado County Public Health Department in partnership with Barton Health this month: Oct. 15 from 3 – 6 p.m. at Bijou Elementary School’s multipurpose room; and in a drive-through format Oct. 22 from 1 – 4 p.m. at the South Lake Tahoe Airport. Visit edcgov.us/publichealth to learn more.
Dr. Erin Jones is a primary care provider and board-certified physician at Barton Family Medicine.
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