Jessica L. Liberty, BSN, RN, Freeman Infection Prevention Control Manager
As temperatures drop, area physicians are preparing for patient visits to rise.
Flu season is right around the corner. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness, and while everyone is at risk for contracting the flu, some people, are at a higher risk of serious flu complications. This group includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years old.
So why get the flu vaccine? Receiving the annual flu vaccine has many benefits. The vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illness and the risk of serious complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Additionally, the flu vaccine is an important preventative tool for the population who are at a high risk. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so they will not cause illness.
Because COVID is a relatively new illness, we have little information about how flu illness might affect a person’s risk for getting COVID. We do know that people can be infected with flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. Getting a flu vaccine is the best protection against flu and its potentially serious complications, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19.
Precautions taken during last year’s flu season including masking and social distancing attribute to the steep decline in flu cases for the 2020 – 2021 flu season. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is anticipating a marked increase of flu cases for the 2021 – 2022 flu season due to relaxed precautions. The CDC is strongly urging any qualifying individual to receive the flu vaccine by the end of October 2021. This allows a person’s body enough time to build up an immune response for the length of the flu season.
Contact your primary care provider for any questions about the flu vaccine or to schedule your flu vaccine. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Physician Finder Line at 417.347.3767 to find the best provider for you.