Flu Season Is Coming! Get Your Vaccination Today!

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September 29, 2020

Flu Season Is Coming! Get Your Vaccination Today!

Fall is almost here! It’s time to celebrate changing leaves, crisp weather, and hot cider. But amid all the welcome changes autumn brings there is one challenge it also introduces: flu season.

This year, with COVID-19 still present, flu season is particularly troubling. However, there are a lot of measures you can take to protect your good health.

First and foremost, get a flu vaccination. It’s easily accessible and does a great job staving off the flu or, at the very least, reducing the severity. According to health officials, if a vaccinated person should contract the flu, hospitalization is rarely necessary. In fact, studies show that when people vaccinate the need to go to the doctor because of flu is reduced by half and visits to the hospital’s intensive care unit are reduced by more than 80%.

This year, with the COVID-19 still at our heels, the flu vaccination takes on even more urgency. While it doesn’t create immunity against COVID-19, it holds the flu at bay and that’s critical to keep us strong as we live in a world beset by a respiratory pandemic. “The flu makes us more vulnerable to COVID-19, and a heavy bout of influenza may predispose us to the worst cases of COVID-19,” says Dr. Bruce Bonnell, a specialist in geriatric medicine who provides care to residents and patients at Lafayette Redeemer, a Holy Redeemer Life Care community.

What about the chance of getting the flu from a vaccination? That’s a common misperception that Dr. Bonnell quickly dispels. “You cannot get the flu from a vaccine because it does not contain live virus. You may get some side effects, but they are manageable. It’s a lot worse to get the flu then to get a flu shot.”

Immunity takes up to two weeks to develop after vaccination so it’s best to get your flu shot as soon as possible. What’s more, because people 65 years or better are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu, a high-dose vaccination is available that contains four times the amount of antigen than standard-dose vaccines. (Antigen is the part of the vaccine that helps you build immunity.) If you are in this age group, ask your doctor if the high-dose vaccine is right for you.

If illness should occur, the flu looks a lot like COVID-19. Both illnesses can present with fever, headache, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Fortunately, doctors have the ability to simultaneously test for COVID-19, flu, and even RSV, a common virus that infects the respiratory tract, to quickly discern a diagnosis and begin a treatment plan.

As for reducing your risk of exposure to COVID-19, Dr. Bonnell emphasizes to practice all of the safety measures that health officials continue to endorse. Wear your mask, keep a distance of 6 feet or more from companions, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands, cough into your elbow, and just as importantly, do not avoid visiting your doctor for routine care because you’re afraid of exposure to COVID-19. “Doctors are taking extraordinary precautions to make sure you enter a safe environment when you visit their office,” says Dr. Bonnell.

Now more than ever is the season to protect yourself and others and get your flu shot! Call your Holy Redeemer physician today to schedule your vaccine.

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