Va. health officials stress the importance of flu vaccine this year

Va. health officials stress the importance of flu vaccine this year
Flu shot (Source: None)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Local health officials say it is important to get a flu vaccine every year, but especially is this year on top of the coronavirus pandemic. The flu vaccine helps reduce the severity of flu symptoms and helps prevent against the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, reports half of Americans get the flu vaccine every year. But, Laura Lee Wight, the Acting Population Health Community Coordinator with the Central Shenandoah Health District, said it should be more, especially locally.

“We’ve all been social distancing, wearing masks, taking these precautions to help reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. But we also now need to think about the flu and one of the easiest ways we can do that is by getting the flu vaccine,” Wight said.

Wight said getting the vaccine between September and October is ideal because the body takes about two weeks to build immunity to the virus. Wight said if you don’t get one by October, it is still better to get one late than not at all.

She said if people get vaccinated for the flu it can help reduce strain on health care systems by reducing the severity of symptoms and potentially decreasing hospital and doctor trips, which is important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we’re able to reduce the burden of flu and COVID on our health care systems, then they can also take care of, you know, day to day needs of patients,” Wight said.

Wight said the common misconception that the vaccine will give you the flu is false and that the vaccine doesn’t contain a live virus. She said if someone is experiencing flu symptoms after getting vaccinated, they were most likely exposed beforehand or during those two weeks after getting vaccinated.

Wight said you can visit your local doctor or pharmacy to get vaccinated. You can also call your local health department for questions regarding where to get vaccines, insurance coverage for the vaccine, or if experiencing any symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19.

She notes while the flu and COVID-19 both share similar symptoms, one big difference is the loss of taste or smell associated with COVID-19. Wight urges those who become sick to stay home to avoid spreading any illnesses.

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