Even as concern continues over the coronavirus, we can't forget that the seasonal flu is looming, and it's especially important to get a flu vaccine this year.
We have no idea how or if COVID-19 and the flu might interact; the pandemic spread here earlier in the year just as flu season ebbed. We can't risk a so-called “twin-demic” that could lead to more illness and death and potentially overload our health system. The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccine, and additional doses have been manufactured to meet increased demand this year.
Flu Vaccines are Available Now
Of course, as always there is heightened concern during the annual flu season for the very young and the very old as well as those who are immunosuppressed or have underlying health conditions like diabetes or asthma. Some high-potency doses are available for these groups. But, with a few exceptions, everyone should get the flu vaccine - and now is the time. The flu season generally runs from October through May, with the peak in the winter months. The vaccine takes a few weeks to become effective so the optimal time to get it is by early September.
The flu vaccine is now widely available at pharmacies and grocery stores, making it convenient for most people. Holy Name's retail pharmacy, PharmaCare, located within the clean, safe environment of our medical center, is also administering flu vaccines. (See below). Fears that the vaccine could cause the flu are unfounded.
The Best Protection is Prevention
Hopefully all the hand-washing, mask-wearing and social-distancing protocols now in place for coronavirus will tamp down on the spread of the flu as well. But getting the vaccine – although not 100 percent effective – is the best way to protect yourself from the seasonal scourge.
Last season as many as 62,000 Americans died due to flu complications and hundreds of thousands were hospitalized, according to the CDC. It's best to eliminate that risk to the extent possible – especially since coronavirus is still lurking and some epidemiologists fear another wave.
As researchers race to come up with a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, let's not ignore the vaccine already in our medical arsenal for the seasonal flu. Protect yourself.
PharmaCare, Holy Name's retail pharmacy, is currently administering standard adult and pediatric flu vaccines by appointment or walk-in. After September 15, we will also have high-dose flu vaccines for those 65 and older. To schedule an appointment, call 201-530-7991 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We accept most insurance plans; we can also vaccinate children ages 12-17 or 8-11 (with a prescription). Patients will safely use back entrance #2 and will be screened with a temperature check, then escorted to PharmaCare.