The Erie County Department of Health highly recommends that the public get their flu vaccination for the 2021-22 season, ideally before the end of October.
Flu vaccine is readily available and appropriate for all Erie County residents ages six months and older, unless they are allergic to it.
The University of Virginia School of Medicine advises women who are pregnant should strongly consider the flu vaccine, as a new study showed poor timing of influenza vaccinations led to an increase in premature births, lower birth-weight babies and the need to deliver more babies by cesarean section in the semi-arid region of Brazil.
The School also consulted experts who said receiving the flu vaccine will be especially important this year to reduce the number of people admitted to hospitals and intensive care units, which are already overwhelmed by COVID-19.
Flu is a respiratory illness that spreads easily. It is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
“Getting a flu vaccine prevents the severe symptoms, shortens the amount of time that someone is sick, and lessens the likelihood of hospitalization in case you are infected,” said Charlotte Berringer, director of community health services. “It also helps protect your family, friends, co-workers and all those you may come into contact with this season.”
This year, both the flu shot and the nasal spray are available at pharmacies from your primary care provider or at community clinics. Health care professionals can discuss what the best vaccine is for you.
Difference between flu and COVID-19
Although the flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory viruses that spread from person to person, they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by various influenza viruses, while COVID-19 is caused by a specific coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue or tiredness, and for some people, vomiting and diarrhea.
Similarly, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
Because the flu and COVID-19 have some similar symptoms, getting tested can help confirm a diagnosis so people can get the appropriate care. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently rates Erie County’s COVID-19 transmission rate as “high,” so they recommend all people should wear masks indoors, including those who are fully vaccinated.
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