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Double trouble: Why it’s critical to get a flu shot this year

Double trouble: Why it’s critical to get a flu shot this year

Health
Doctor disinfects skin of patient before flu shot

Flu season is here, and this year – amid the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot.
The CDC recommends nearly everyone 6 months of age and older receive the flu shot, which is the single-best way to protect yourself from the flu. Receiving a flu shot makes it less likely that you’ll become ill and, even if you do, it can help reduce the severity of your symptoms.
This year, as our community and nation continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more vital to proactively protect yourself from the flu by receiving a flu shot.
The CDC believes people can contract both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, potentially leading to more severe symptoms. If you become ill, receiving a flu shot can also help simplify your diagnosis because the symptoms of COVID-19 and flu overlap.
Plus, by getting a flu shot, you can help limit the overall spread of the flu in our community and help prevent health care providers from being overwhelmed by a surge of flu and COVID-19 cases.
“If we have a spike in influenza and COVID-19 cases at the same time, we could face a critical situation,” says Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. William Jackson Epperson, medical director of primary care for Tidelands Health. “It could be a devastating event for health care delivery in our community.”

Double trouble

Dr. Epperson, who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Prince Creek, says hospitals simply don’t have the capacity to treat the number of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 during the months of June and July and the number of patients typically hospitalized with flu complications during an average flu season.
“We have capacity for a normal flu season, but we could get overwhelmed if there are spikes in cases of both illnesses,” he says.

Schedule your flu shot today

Scheduling your flu shot is quick and easy. Call 1-866-TIDELANDS today.

Although COVID-19 is top of mind these days, Dr. Epperson says it’s important to remember the flu can be deadly, too. It has killed an average of 37,000 Americans per year since 2010, according to the CDC.
Still, only about approximately 40 percent of people get a flu shot each year.
“Flu can lead to respiratory failure, just like coronavirus,” he says. “It needs to be taken seriously as well.”

High risk

Like COVID-19, older adults and those with preexisting conditions such as diabetes, obesity or a weakened immune system are most at risk from the flu, Dr. Epperson says. However, the risk of serious complications from flu is higher among healthy children than it is from COVID-19.
“The flu vaccine will not make you sick. If you become ill after getting the shot, it’s probably due to another virus that’s circulating in the population,” Dr. Epperson says. “It’s important to remember that fall and winter are peak seasons for the spread of many viruses, including influenza, rhinoviruses and many others.”

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Dr. Epperson says people should try to get a flu shot as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks to become effective.
“Do the right thing for yourself, your family and our community,” Dr. Epperson says. “Schedule your flu shot today.
“And make sure to continue practicing COVID-19 safety precautions such as wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly and practicing social distancing, all of which can also help limit the spread of the flu.”
If you start to notice flu-like symptoms such as cough, sore throat, body aches or nausea, avoid contact with others and contact your health care provider or 1-866-TIDELANDS.

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