Health office: Flu shot more important than ever
The federal Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health encourage residents to get an annual influenza (flu) vaccination to reduce the chance of getting the flu and spreading it to others.
“Getting a flu vaccination this year is more important than ever,” said Dr. Eleanor Cantrell, director of the Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO health districts. “According to the CDC, COVID-19 will likely continue into the fall and winter and may overlap with the flu season. With the possibility of both viruses occurring in our communities at the same time, it is vital that everyone age six months or older get their yearly flu shot.
“Preventing and reducing levels of influenza in our community will reduce symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19,” continued Dr. Cantrell. “Flu vaccination reduces outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and helps protect our local and regional healthcare systems.”
If you are unsure if you can be vaccinated, talk with your doctor to discuss your personal health risks and concerns. There are many vaccine options to choose from; the most important thing is to get a flu vaccine each year.
Flu season generally peaks in December and January and it is important to be vaccinated before the flu begins to spread. Since it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccination to provide protection, the CDC recommends getting your flu shot before the end of October. Children receiving flu vaccine for the first time require two doses four weeks apart, so the first should be given in September to allow time for the second dose before the end of October.
These simple steps can help stop the spread of germs and help protect you from getting sick:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick, which will help prevent others from catching your illness.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Clean your hands often.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Flu vaccine is available now at many private health care providers, free clinics and pharmacies, and at local health departments. The Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO health districts offer quadrivalent and high dose flu vaccines. Quadrivalent injectable flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months and older. It protects against four strains of the flu virus, two type A viruses and two type B viruses. High dose flu vaccine is available for individuals 65 years and older. It contains four times the antigen and is intended to give older people a better immune response, and better protection against flu.
“Remember, flu vaccines do not utilize live flu virus so there is no risk of contracting flu from receiving the vaccine,” says Dr. Cantrell.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Wise County/Norton Health Department, 276/328-8000.
For more information, see https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/flu/.
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