Why the Flu Vaccine is More Important This Year

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By Heather Kretzer, Public Information Officer/Public Services Manager, Florida Department of Health in Bay County

Flu VaccinationThe Florida Department of Health in Bay County (DOH-Bay) is urging residents to get vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible. Getting vaccinated if you are healthy helps to protect our most vulnerable populations. Until there is a steady vaccine supply against COVID-19, the way to help prevent these two viruses from circulating at the same time is to get your flu vaccine now.

“In just a few minutes, we can all do our part to protect those who are more at risk and reduce the burden on our health care system,” said Sandon S. Speedlling, MHS, CPM, CPH, Administrator and Health Officer, DOH-Bay.

DOH-Bay is now offering flu vaccines for children ages 6 months to 18 years of age at no charge through the Vaccines for Children program. DOH-Bay also offers adult flu vaccines for $36.24 and high-dose flu vaccine for $69.77. Vaccines are available by appointment only. Call 850 872-4455 and follow the prompts for an appointment.

Flu Vaccine is a Healthy Choice
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. This year, the CDC underscores that flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and the people around you, and to help reduce the strain on health care systems responding to COVID-19. Also, having the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could lead to a negative outcome.

According to the CDC, during the 2016–2017 flu season, vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits and 85,000 hospitalizations. Every year, flu vaccine reduces severe illness for people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease.

Flu vaccine protects pregnant women and their newborns and infants for several months after birth. For children, flu vaccine can be lifesaving. Flu varies from mild to severe illness, but children often need medical care when sick with the flu. Children younger than 5, and children of any age with certain long-term health problems, are at higher risk for flu complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.

Flu Vaccine and Older Adults
Immune systems become weaker as we age—this puts people 65 years and older at a higher risk for serious flu complications. About 70 to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States are people 65 years and older. On average, this age group accounts for 50 to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations.

Flu Vaccine has a Good Safety Record
Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years. Each year, the CDC works with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards. Flu vaccines are made using killed flu viruses or without flu virus at all—it’s a myth that you can get flu from a flu vaccine. Some people who are vaccinated still catch the flu, but the vaccine serves as protection against severe symptoms and illness.

The Healthy Habits that Stop the Spread of Covid-19, Stop the Spread of Flu
Keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to help stop the spread of germs—if soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Regularly clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces in your home, school or office. And if you’re sick, contain those germs and stay home!
To learn more, visit Bay.FloridaHealth.gov.

Sources: Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention