Of all years, this is the year to get your flu vaccine.
In a normal fall and winter, if you show up at a clinic with a fever and respiratory symptoms, the doctor sends you home for fluids and bed rest and tells you to stay home until your fever’s gone for 24 hours.
This year, same clinic, same symptoms, you’ll be treated as though you may have COVID-19, says Monongalia County Health Department epidemiologist Dr. Diane Gross: You’ll be administered a COVID test and told in no uncertain terms to isolate until the test results are in, however many days that takes.
Avoiding that possibly unnecessary test and isolation is one extra reason to get the influenza vaccine this year—that’s on top of avoiding the seasonal flu itself, which infected 38,000,000 people in the U.S. last year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, hospitalizing 400,000 and killing 22,000.
Getting the flu and having to be treated will increase your chances of exposure to COVID-19, Gross points out. “Any time you have to go to the doctor and it’s ‘COVID season,’ then you may be exposed to other people who have COVID,” she says. “Certainly health care facilities try to minimize this, but you are leaving your protected bubble in your house.”
And the multiple millions of flu cases the vaccine prevents—more than 7 million in 2019–2020—will save resources this year for treating COVID, Gross adds.
Of all years, Gross says, “This is the year to get your flu vaccine.”
Anyone may be vaccinated by appointment at the Monongalia County Health Department at 453 Van Voorhis Road. People 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women are especially encouraged. The MCHD will bill health insurance or charge $25. Call 304.599.5119 to schedule an appointment.