Fall has begun once again, and with it comes the start of the 2020/2021 flu season.
According to a statement posted on the Center for Disease Control’s website, “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to have extra flu vaccines available this flu season. Manufacturers have already begun distributing flu vaccine and will continue to distribute vaccine throughout the season. CDC recommends getting a flu vaccination in September or October but getting vaccinated anytime during flu season can help protect you. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The 2019/2020 Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimates released by the CDC indicate that between 36-million and 56-million people in the United States suffered flu-related illnesses, and between 24,000 and 62,000 died from the virus. And with so much as yet unknown regarding the COVID-19 virus, it is impossible to predict what it’s impact on the 2020/2021 flu season might be.
The consensus among experts and medical professionals is that a flu shot is the best way to protect against the spread of various strains of the influenza virus. Simply put, a flu shot is a vaccine injected into the human body, typically in the arm, through a needle. Seasonal flu shots have been proven to protect against the strains of influenza that research suggests will be the most commonly-spread throughout the current season. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six-months should be vaccinated each season. There are uncommon exceptions to this recommendation. A personal physician should be consulting regarding any concerns.
During his coronavirus media-briefing on Friday, October 2, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice submitted himself for a flu shot as part of the broadcast. As the Governor is over 65-years of age, he was given what State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad referred to as a “high-dose vaccine.”
“That was great, I get a pretty band-aid,” the Governor said, all smiles after the vaccination. “Alright West Virginia, everybody get your flu shot.”
The CDC reports that it is possible for an individual to contract both the flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 simultaneously. However, no data has yet been released regarding how common this occurrence can be. Certain symptoms of the flu very closely resemble those of COVID-19, and diagnostic testing may be necessary to determine which virus a particular individual has contracted. The CDC has developed a diagnostic test which will look for multiple-types of seasonal flu-strains, as well as SARS CoV-2. (the virus which causes COVID-19) The CDC has been using these tests since early-August through an Emergency User Authorization provided by the Food and Drug Administration. It should be noted that a flu vaccination will not protect against the contraction of the COVID-19 virus. It will only defend against certain strains of influenza.
For those who wish to be vaccinated, flu shots are available at numerous nearby locations, and many without the need for an appointment. Wal-Mart, Kroger, MedExpress Urgent Care, The Greenbrier Medical Arts Pharmacy, CVS and Walgreens are but a few of the businesses offering vaccinations. They should be contacted directly for pricing and insurance questions.