Despite the ominous shadow of COVID-19 and with the typical start of the flu season still a month away, the Highland County Health Department stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against influenza as soon as possible.
“You can’t get the flu from getting a flu shot,” Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner emphasized, “because there is nothing in that vaccine that’s alive and will give you the flu.”
Though some people may experience minor symptoms such as a slight fever and chills, or minor aches and pains, he said that is the body reacting to the vaccine, comparing it to the body training itself to respond if and when the influenza virus showed up.
An added benefit to getting a flu vaccination has sometimes been a reduction in the severity of illness in people who got a flu shot and later became ill with something else, Warner said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the flu shouldn’t be looked upon as just another “bad cold,” but could result in serious health complications such as pneumonia and bacterial infections that may lead to hospitalization, and in a worst case scenario, death.
The flu vaccines being used in the 2020-21 flu season have different names such as AFLURIA, Fluarix, FluLaval, Flucelvax, Fluzone and FluMist, which are all referred to as quadrivalents.
The Food and Drug Administration defined a quadrivalent influenza vaccine are being designed to protect against four different flu viruses, including two influenza A and two influenza B strains.
The agency said this year’s vaccines have been formulated to offer protection against a trio of updated virus strains.
The CDC pointed out five benefits to getting the annual flu vaccine:
• Can keep a person from getting sick with the flu, and in seasons where the vaccine matched circulating virus strains, it had been shown to reduce visits to the family doctor or emergency room by 40 to 60 percent.
• Can reduce the risk of hospitalization for children, working age adults, and older adults.
• Helps prevent serious medical events associated with some chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and persistent lung issues such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).
• Helps protect women during and after pregnancy, and has been shown to protect a newborn from the illness.
• Can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
Warner said people at high risk of serious flu complications include young children; pregnant women; people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease; and people 65 years of age and older.
“What we see from the hospitalization side of things is that the very old, the very young and pregnant women tend to be hospitalized more often when it comes to the flu,” he said. “Those are the groups we really want to focus on, in addition to those that have underlying health conditions, since getting the flu on top of that can develop into something really bad.”
In order to address a more serious concern, a pop-up COVID-19 testing site will be at the Highland County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. It’s being held in conjunction with the Ohio National Guard, Highland County Emergency Management, Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District and Highland Health Providers.
The post added that for those without a primary care physician, representatives from Highland Health Providers will be on hand to connect people to health care professionals as needed.
Flu shot appointments can be made by calling the Highland County Health Department at 937-393-1941.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.