Influenza season is just around the corner, and in the world of a pandemic that mimics several similar symptoms to COVID-19, this could pose a problem. A “twindemic” is concerning many health officials and so it’s more important than ever, in their opinion, that people get their flu shots
“Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses,” Brooks Hospital said in a statement. “As we approach flu season with concurrent positive COVID-19 cases within our community, the infection control team at Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc. reminds us it is extremely important to remain vigilant about taking precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy.”
The statement notes that in this context, getting a flu vaccination will be more important than ever this year.
“For the upcoming flu season, flu vaccination will be very important because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and thus lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the hospital said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
“This year, the public should be especially proactive,” said Theresa Schrantz, Brooks-TLC employee health coordinator. “People should get it as soon as it becomes available.”
Dylan Cassidy, pharmacist at Concord Pharmacy in Fredonia, said there has been a steady supply so far.
“We had a lot of people come in a little earlier than I would normally like to see, but still kind of within the range. Between the coronavirus and the flu they just want to make sure that they’re protected,” she said. “As soon as flu season hits, you have a bunch of people asking for them.”
According to Cassidy the recommended window is before the end of October. “If you’re going to the hospital and presenting with fever, the symptoms are pretty similar (to COVID-19),” Cassidy said. “They’re both respiratory, you have a fever, sore throat, cough, those are symptoms of the flu as well. I feel it’d be a good indicator, if someone has their flu shot and they have those symptoms, it might be helpful in saying it shouldn’t be flu, you can still potentially get the flu after getting the shot, but it can help in ruling stuff out.”
Sarah Gilbert, marking specialist for The Chautauqua Center, echoed these sentiments.
“People coming in and getting their shots is in full swing,” she said. “The symptoms are so similar that they need to be extra aggressive in getting these shots this year to help eliminate flu as an option.”
Gilbert said The Chautauqua Center encourages everyone to get a flu shot, especially this year and are holding a free clinic to help make that a reality. “This is an especially trying season because respiratory illnesses are on the forefront of the CDC,” she said. “People really want to protect themselves this year.”
The Chautauqua Center has partnered with CVS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York for a drive-up flu clinic on Oct. 17 from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. at the pavilion at Park Avenue and East Third Street in the city. Preregistration is available online at cvs.com/vaccine/intake/clinic/covid-screener/covid-qns. For those who don’t have access to the internet, they can preregister by calling Anna Michotek at BCBS of WNY at 331-4844.
If members of the community can’t make this event or don’t wish to wait community members can get the flu vaccine by contacting their primary care physician, or it is typically available in pharmacies.
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