Getting Flu Vaccination Is More Important Than Ever
Avera providers are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated for the flu in the coming weeks.
“Each year, the vaccine differs from the ones used in the past, and getting the vaccination is among the best ways to protect yourself, your loved ones and your coworkers,” said Kevin Post, DO, Chief Medical Officer, Avera Medical Group. “This year with the COVID-19 virus, it’s more important than ever to be vaccinated against the flu. Each year, about 220,000 Americans are hospitalized because of flu and almost 40,000 people die from it. We want to minimize the illness from the flu as much as possible.”
Post said the flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia which can be life-threatening.
Older adults, young children, pregnant women and people of any age who already have conditions such as COPD, asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at higher risk for developing flu-related complications. While the vaccination doesn’t “guarantee” avoiding the flu, it does offer protection.
“Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people infected with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby,” said Post. “People also can get the flu by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.”
Proper handwashing can help curb the virus. People who are sick should stay home to avoid possible spread.
“Scientists are developing a COVID-19 vaccine, but we don’t know yet when it might be available. There could be a waiting period between getting the flu and COVID vaccinations, so getting your flu shot early would ensure you avoid any timing issues when the vaccine for COVID-19 is approved.”
Post offered these five steps to help stop the flu:
1) Get the vaccination now. You’re not just helping yourself when you get the shot, you’re helping everyone.
2) Wash your hands, and avoid touching your face. Hand-washing is an easy way to avoid spreading the disease.
3) Stay home if you’re sick. People can transmit the flu before the symptoms are full-blown. Stay home until you’re fever-free for 24 hours without the use of any fever-reducing medications.
4) Know the signs of flu. Fever, cough, body ache, feeling dizzy and runny nose, along with a general fatigue, all are signs.
5) Get help for you or loved ones when needed. People age 65 and older, children and anyone who faces chronic illnesses who develops symptoms should schedule an appointment.
“We must realize the importance of avoiding additional illness and hospitalizations in these
pandemic times,” Post added. “Due to COVID-19, hospitals and clinics may be dealing with shortages in medical resources and workforces, so preventive measures like immunizations are vital.”
Many insurance plans, including Avera Health Plans, cover the cost of a flu shot. Primary care providers can set appointments to administer the shot, and some communities are scheduling flu shot clinics.
Contact your local clinic or learn more at Avera.org/shots.