• 82°

Fall is on the way, time to get your flu shot

The summer that seemingly never was is about to end. This is the last full week of the season for 2020.
The summer of 2020 was unlike any we have witnessed. Much changed this year as the COVID-19 pandemic halted ballgames, fairs, festivals, concerts, Vacation Bible Schools, church homecomings, and much more. The only thing that remained the same was the summer weather, and there were some days that were downright hot.
Now comes the annual prediction made by the Farmer’s Almanac. The publication, established in 1818, has predicted for the mid-Atlantic area a warmer and dryer winter. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have some cold days and perhaps a snow or two.
But until winter sets in, enjoy what is left of summer and the upcoming fall season, which begins Sept. 22. There are still limitations in places because of the lingering health crisis. Football stadiums are still not at full capacity on Friday nights, and school is still virtual in many instances. But, it is still a good time to get out and take a walk in the crisp morning and evening air.
In just a few weeks, the leaves will begin to change color, and we urge you to take a drive around Watauga Lake or to Roan Mountain and marvel at the changing colors. Do it while you can because that air won’t remain crisp all that long. It will be replaced by a chill, that calls for bringing out the jackets, turning the thermostat from cool to heat, and going inside.
The COVID-19 pandemic remains with us and with flu season approaching, it’s a reminder to get a flu shot. While some people incorrectly believe getting a flu shot is worthless or gives you the flu, it actually is one of the most important things you can do for your health and others — especially in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts say people can and should get their flu shot early this year. They can be obtained at most doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and supermarkets. Even though typical flu seasons begins in October and peaks between December and February, the changes brought on by COVID-19 means it is time to start thinking about when, how, and where you can get immunized.
Coronavirus’ prevalence in our community means you really do not want the flu. A combination of both viruses, or one after the other, may mean bad news for your health, respiratory health and overall ability to recover. Experts are not sure what having both could mean for your health.
“People who can avoid the flu will help reduce the burden on a U.S. health care system already overwhelmed by COVID-19,” said Mark Thompson, an epidemiologist in the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are overwhelmed with flu patients during winter months. Getting a flu shot can keep you from getting sick and prevent you from co-mingling flu patients with COVID-19 patients, who can infect each other and spread their viruses to other patients.
Do not forget that while the flu has a vaccine, tens of thousands of people with the flu are hospitalized each year. Because the flu and COVID-19 share many (not all) symptoms — including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue — loss of taste and smell are specific symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, many people do die from the flu each year.
Still, over half of Americans skip the flu shot. If you’re hesitant about getting a flu shot because you’ve had a severe reaction in the past, check with your doctor about your best strategy this year. Nearly everyone over 6 months old should be immunized against the flu.
The AMA also recommends reaching out to your local doctor’s office to see where the nearest place to get a flu shot might be. Usually, flu shots are free for anyone with Medicare Part B, employer health insurance or other insurance that conforms to the Affordable Care Act, as well as for many Medicaid beneficiaries. You also might be able to ask your employer if they are offering any onsite locations to get your shot. During the coronavirus pandemic, getting immunized against the flu is vital for your health and others, especially as the colder months approach.