Beeson urges flu vaccine and COVID-19 boosters

One of the most important things one can do for their health and the health of others, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – is to get a flu shot.

Health experts annually push the importance of the flu vaccine for all demographics, but it is especially important this year, said Samantha Beeson, Montgomery County Public Health Administrator. She added even though it’s the last week of November, it’s still not too late for the flu vaccine. 

One month into flu season, Beeson urges Iowans to get their flu vaccines as soon as possible. Flu activity in the state is still low, but cases have increased in the last week.

Health experts advise the typical flu season begins in October and peaks between December and February. Beeson explained a combination of both the flu and the coronavirus, or one after the other, may mean bad news. In fact, experts are not sure what having both could do to a person’s health.

“It is very important to be vaccinated each year to prevent this disease,” said Montgomery County Public Health Director Samantha Beeson. “Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect yourself and your family.”

She added having the flu might expose family, friends and co-workers to an infection that kills an average of 36,000 people annually in the United States, without the coronavirus pandemic tossed in.

She said getting an annual flu shot is the best way to avoid the flu, as well as frequent hand washing. Beeson added she’s always surprised by the number of people who don’t get a flu shot because of the misconception it causes the flu.  

“This vaccine is a killed virus; it cannot make you sick,” Beeson reiterated. “By taking precautions and getting the flu vaccine, it could reduce a person’s  symptoms or could prevent them from getting influenza at all.”

 It takes up to two weeks after a flu vaccination for a person to achieve full benefits against the virus. The CDC recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months. The vaccine is paid for through most insurance companies as well as Medicare/Medicaid.

Another similarity between the flu and COVID-19 is that a person may pass the illness to someone else before they know they are sick or while they are sick. Like COVID-19, influenza is transmitted through droplets. 

“Most healthy adults are able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick,” said Beeson.

 The flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. The illness typically lasts two to seven days, and can cause a healthy person to be bed-ridden for days. Sadly, these symptoms are also those of COVID-19. Once the symptoms start, they usually last for 10 to 14 days.

Other viruses that begin circulating in the fall include the rhinovirus/enterovirus, which are infections that cause the common cold. It may also cause ear infections, sore throats and sinus infections and lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Another virus, which makes the rounds annually, is the “stomach bug” that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Contrary to popular belief, this illness is not caused by the influenza virus, but rather the norovirus, Beeson explained.

According to the CDC, the noroviruses causes 19 million to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S. per year. The illness lasts from one to three days, comes on abruptly and has a quick recovery time.

When it comes to COVID, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has authorized boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for all adults age 18 and over. Prior to this authorization, eligibility had been limited to individuals age 65 and older and those who lived or worked in high risk environments.

Those who received a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are already eligible for a booster two months after their initial dose. To date, 74% of Iowans age 18 and over and 71% of Iowans age 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine. With the recent authorization of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine, over 31,000 Iowans in the 5-11 age group have also received their first vaccine.

While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus, and there is no way to tell in advance if a child will get a severe or mild case. After a natural infection, some children have developed a rare but serious disease that is linked to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Since the beginning of the pandemic, 63 cases of MIS-C have been reported to the IDPH.

Both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from these viruses. Iowans with questions about vaccines for themselves or loved ones consult with their health care provider.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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