The North Bend Eagle



Early flu shots enouraged in 2020 flu season

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/16/20

Just when we are getting really fed up with the coronavirus, there’s another virus coming along. The good news is the routine we have with the one virus may help us with the other. Frequent and thorough hand washing and the wearing of a mask may protect you from the seasonal flu also, but immunization is still encouraged.

Medicine Man pharmacist Jed Lewis administers a flu shot in the back of the pharmacy. Lewis said there is a private room or he will come out to a vehicle if requested to administer the seasonal immunization.

“It’s almost always the same to push everybody from age 6 months and older to get a flu shot, nothing like that has ever changed as long as the vaccine is available,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Angela Sukstorf of Fremont. “We don’t have any shortage of vaccine. In fact, we have more options of different kinds of vaccines, more than ever before for different age groups.”

Sukstorf said the need is to avoid as much flu as possible so time can be put in dealing with COVID.

“If you were to get both there is much higher risk of death,” Sukstorf said. “Even though flu is so much more treatable than COVID, if we can prevent it, you do so much better then trying to treat it. You don’t need two problems at once.”

The Center for Disease Control says that getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and, as has been the concern with the COVID, to avoid burdening the healthcare systems responding.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. There are two main types, A and B. Most experts believe that the flu virus spreads mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu, cough, sneeze or talk.

Many of the symptoms of the seasonal flu are similar to that of the COVID-19 virus. Fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches and headaches are some of the similar symptoms of the two illnesses. The one symptom that COVID has that the flu does not seem to have is the change or loss of taste or smell.

There are a few more differences. A person usually becomes ill with the flu within one to four days, and usually recovers in a few days. There is a treatment, an antiviral drug that helps with flu symptoms.

With COVID one can develop symptoms as early as two days or as late as 14 days after exposure, remain contagious for longer and there is no treatment, just symptomatic treatment.

The only way to tell which illness you have it by having a clinical test done. And you can have both at the same time.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like the flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to have extra flu vaccines, some already available to the public. The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccination earlier this year, in September or October, but getting vaccinated any time during the flu season can help protect you. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.

The influenza vaccines are available through your primary care provider, Medicine Man Pharmacy (748 Main Street, in downtown North Bend, 402-652-3217), Three Rivers Public Health Department (2400 North Lincoln, Fremont, 402-727-5396 /1-866-727-5396 ) and other pharmacies. Methodist Health




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