By Crystal Malchose, PIO Pottawatomie County
This is an informational feature supported by the Pottawatomie County Commission to assist in providing educational information regarding the COVID-19 virus to citizens.
It may seem everything these days is COVID, COVID, COVID; however, we are about to enter “Flu Season”, and it may be more important than ever to get your flu shot.
Flu season peaks from December to February each year. Health experts are concerned another respiratory illness with the current COVID-19 pandemic could place a strain on our healthcare system and resources. Additionally, the winter season sees more people spending time indoors, in closer proximity to one another. This increases the risk of catching both diseases at once.
The ones most susceptible to the flu are the same as those most susceptible to COVID; the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Children may be hit particularly hard, and children being children, spread the virus more quickly.
The time to get a flu shot is early in the season, late September through October. This allows the body to develop an immune response before it is exposed to the flu. Receiving the vaccine in this time period “generally provides protection throughout the entire flu season,” states Josh Adler, MD, chief clinical officer of UCSH Health.
At this time, it is not known what having COVID-19 and the flu at the same time will do. However, as most respiratory infections in nature, both target the lungs.
Is getting a flu vaccine risky? Many doctor’s offices and health departments are offering walk-in or drive-thru clinics this year, to assist in separating healthy patients just wanting the vaccine, from other patients being seen for diagnosis or treatment. Many pharmacies are also providing shots. Yes, mitigation techniques for avoiding the spread of COVID-19 will also help mitigate the spread of the flu. However, with more areas opening up, and more indoor activities taking place – plus the gathering of families for the holidays, that increases togetherness, increased potential for exposure.
Best practices? Get your flu shot as soon as you can - Continue COVID-19 mitigation techniques including; Wear a mask; practice (at least) 6’ physical distancing; and wash your hands often.