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Getting a flu vaccine has never been more important

COVID-19 heightens awareness and need to protect public health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates during the 2018-19 influenza season 35.5 million Americans became sick with the flu. Of those, 16.5 million visited a health care provider for their illness and 490,000 were hospitalized. More than 34,000 people died. 

It only takes a few minutes, however, to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community from a virus that, for some, can cause serious illness and even death.

Gritman Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Brown discusses the importance of getting the flu vaccine.

The CDC recommends most people 6 months and older get a flu shot annually. While the vaccine may not always keep you from getting the seasonal flu, it can make the symptoms milder and lower the risk of other health problems from the flu.

And this year it is as important as ever to get the vaccine to ensure health care systems are not overwhelmed.  

“Flu season is upon us once again, and, of course, we have the added complication that we will have COVID-19 going on in our community,” Gritman Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Brown said. “One good piece of news is that the precautions everyone is taking against contracting and spreading COVID-19 are fairly effective at preventing the spread of the influenza virus.”

Those precautions include washing your hands, socially distancing from others and wearing a facemask. 

It takes about two weeks for your body to make the antibodies, so it’s best to get the flu shot as soon as it’s available. But the shot can still help if you get it during the flu season, which typically starts in September or October.

“If everybody does their part, gets immunized and wears appropriate personal protective equipment as recommended by the city of Moscow and the CDC, I think we should get through this flu season without too much trouble,” Dr. Brown said.

The vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk of health complications from the flu. This includes:

  • People who are age 50 or older. People 65 or older are the most likely to have problems from the flu.
  • People who have long-term (chronic) diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and lung disease, including asthma.
  • People who live in nursing homes or long-term care centers.
  • People who have a weak immune system.
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season.
  • Young children.

The flu shot may cause mild side effects like soreness where you got the shot, muscle aches or fever. It cannot cause the flu. The risk of a serious problem from the flu vaccine (such as a bad allergic reaction) is very small.

Call Moscow Family Medicine at 208-882-2011 to schedule an appointment for a flu vaccination.

Visit our Online Clinic to learn more about the flu vaccine and how it helps protect you.

Facts vs. fiction

Many people choose not to have the influenza vaccine because of myths they believe about the disease or the vaccine. Get the facts.