Officials: Flu shots more important than ever this season


By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com



WILMINGTON — A flu shot this year may be more vital than ever.

A recent New York Times article by Jan Hoffman reported how health officials are urgently pushing for flu shots. This is due to a fear of a scenario called a “twindemic” in which, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, there will also be a severe flu season.

“Even a mild flu season could stagger hospitals already coping with Covid-19 cases. And though officials don’t know yet what degree of severity to anticipate this year, they are worried large numbers of people could forgo flu shots, increasing the risk of widespread outbreaks,” the article states.

Local health officials feel the same.

Dr. Terry Holten, Medical Director of the Clinton County Health District (CCHD), said there’s a good reason to expect both COVID-19 and seasonal flu viruses will be circulating in populations for at least the next four to six months. This is based on what’s known about COVID-19 so far and what they know about seasonal flu viruses.

“Seasonal influenza viruses typically begin causing illness in October or November, and reach a peak in January or February,” said Holten. “We know that patients with COVID-19 can be co-infected with other respiratory viruses, and it is likely that co-infection with influenza virus will occur in some people.”

COVID-19 infections complicated by influenza co-infection could be worse than those caused by COVID-19 alone, according to Holten.

“We know that patients with COVID-19 can be co-infected with other respiratory viruses, and it is likely that co-infection with influenza virus will occur in some people. COVID-19 infections complicated by influenza co-infection could be worse than those caused by COVID-19 alone,” said Holten.

For this reason, according to Holten, it is especially important for everyone to get a flu shot this year.

“Since we don’t yet have a vaccine against COVID-19, it just makes sense to get a flu shot to protect ourselves the best we can from influenza,” she said.

She also added that hospitals and outpatient healthcare providers are often challenged with the volume of patients during a typical flu season.

“This is expected to be worse than usual during this year’s flu season because of the already large number of COVID-19 patients,” she said.

The CCHD advises that everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and hospitalizations, and has been shown to be life-saving, the health department states.

Most people who get sick with the flu will have a mild illness; however, flu can make chronic health problems worse. The flu vaccine is the best protection from flu and its potentially serious complications, according to them.

Renee Quallen, WIC Director of CCHD, recommends calling them in advance so they can get the paperwork done in advance. So, when the appointment comes, they can give the person the vaccine as quickly as possible. They can even meet them curbside at their vehicle.

Quallen told the News Journal they have a high dose for those 65 and older, and an intermediate one called FluBlok for people 18 and older with high-risk conditions.

Call the Clinton County Health Department at 937-382-3829 extension 125 to see when you can come, or email driehle@clincohd.com.

Lauren Simpkins, manager of Kratzer’s Hometown Pharmacy, told the News Journal they’re offering flu shots at all their branches.

“It’s highly recommended, as a health care professional, and because it’s been recommended by the CDC and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” she said, indicating those groups are predicting a bad flu season.

Simpkins advised locals who wish to get a vaccine to call in advance and reserve one since they’re in high demand this year, according to her.

“If you don’t feel comfortable coming into the store, then we can meet them at their car,” said Simpkins.

To set an appointment with them, call 937-382-0081.

Bobbi Schlaegel, co-owner of LongRx Pharmacy — Zeigler, told the News Journal they’re currently taking appointments for flu shots and that it’s important to get the shot this year.

“I think it’s always important, for our senior population, and anytime you can get something that can help you throughout the season,” said Schlaegel. “With COVID going around, and being uncertain how it affects others, I think it’s important to do anything you can to stay healthy.”

While they’re taking calls for flu shot appointments, they’ve also had people ask for them while pulling through the drive-thru. But Schlaegel indicates setting up an appointment is preferred at 937-382-0921.

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By John Hamilton

jhamilton@wnewsj.com

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574