Virginia health official calls this year’s flu shot “essential”

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 3:39 PM EDT
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ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WDBJ) - Health officials in Virginia are stressing the importance of the flu shot ahead of what could be an impactful flu season.

“If you think about last year, we had emergency orders from the governor, we had lockdown standards, we had all these precautions in place, and flu around the world was not really a big deal,” recalls Nancy Bell, spokesperson for the West Piedmont Health District. “This year, we’ve relaxed our standards, there’s no executive orders in place and no lockdowns, so this could be really bad. The flu and COVID overlap in their symptoms. So, in terms of patient management, it will be very complicated.”

Last year, the opportunity to get a flu and COVID shot at the same time was not possible. This year, officials say it is safe to do so.

“The flu and the COVID vaccination can be taken at the same time,” she says. “You can have the flu shot with whatever version, whatever brand, and if it’s one, two, or three. People will still have a reaction to the booster shot such as they did with the second shot because it’s more immunity in your body. Folks should be prepared to not feel so great for six hours or so the following day, but we still think it’s a small price to pay.”

According to Bell, in the West Piedmont Health District, turnout for the flu shot is relatively strong. She advises everyone take a flu shot, especially young children in school.

“We know that there are strep infections and stomach bugs going around schools now. Getting the flu shot would eliminate the flu. The CDC and the FDA are working on clearance for giving younger children 5 and up the COVID vaccine as well, but I wouldn’t let that hold me back. Go ahead and get those flu shots for your family.”

Rolling sleeves up, to keep infection rates down.

“On most years, we lose thousands of people to the flu, and we’re losing people to COVID. So, put those two together and, that’s kind of scary,” adds Bell.

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