Don’t forget this jab: The flu vaccinatiion also is needed to stay healthy this season

Published 4:29 pm Friday, November 5, 2021

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With winter approaching, now is the ideal time to get a flu shot. First of all, the coronavirus vaccination does not protect us from the flu.
It’s true that last year’s flu season was exceptionally mild, mostly because the precautions a lot of people took to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also worked to stop the spread of the flu.
People were staying home, and when they did venture out, they were avoiding close contact and wearing masks. They were washing their hands more often.
The numbers were lower also because people were steering clear of doctors’ offices and health clinics. When they did get sick, they stayed home, so a lot of flu cases went undiagnosed and unreported.
Now, though, people are getting out more. They’ve gone back to work, kids are back in school, and they’re just generally spending more time around other people. That makes it more likely that they’ll catch and spread the flu.
What about the COVID vaccine? Won’t that protect you against getting the flu?
The answer is no. The coronavirus and influenza are completely different. A vaccine for one won’t protect you against the other.
Medical experts recommend getting both vaccines.
What if you just got a COVID vaccine or a booster shot? Do you have to wait two weeks between vaccines?
The answer, the experts say, is no. Medical experts did initially recommend a 14-day wait between the COVID vaccines and other shots, but they’ve dropped that recommendation. Still, if you want to play it extra safe, they say, you can space your vaccinations by a few weeks.
It is true that flu shots aren’t recommended for everyone. If you have allergies to any of the vaccine ingredients, you should consult your physician before getting a shot. The same goes for anyone who has had Guillain-Barré syndrome.
An allergy doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a flu shot, though. It just means you need to be careful about which one you get. Again, medical experts suggest consulting your physician.
“Influenza (flu) is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently. But millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year,” according to information on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can result in more serious illness. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.”
Flu season runs from October through May, and the peak is between December and March. It takes about two weeks for your immunity to take effect, so the time to get your shot is now.
Most pharmacies in our area are offering the flu vaccination plus all health departments across the state will provide free flu vaccines at clinics on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Locally, a flu clinic will be held at the Great Lakes Workforce Development Complex at 386 Highway 91 (across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport) from 2 to 5 p.m. The shots are free and no appointment is needed. Drive-thru participants will not have to leave their vehicles. Pre-registration is not required.
The drive-thru clinics will be much like how coronavirus testing is done; folks will not leave their cars when getting a vaccine.
Both the flu and COVID could surge in the coming months. The best way to prevent that is get a vaccine now.

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