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Flu shots shouldn't get lost in Covid shuffle


December 18, 2020

The Carlton County Public Health and Human Services reports that despite a heavy focus on Covid-19, health officials have seen both confirmed cases and hospitalizations from influenza this fall. People ages 6 months and older are urged to get an annual flu vaccine if they have not already done so. Covid-19 and flu could spread simultaneously this winter. There is still time to get a flu vaccine to protect against influenza illness and serious flu complications.

Many of the prevention measures (wearing a mask, social distancing and good hand hygiene) we are taking for Covid-19 overlap with great protections for seasonal flu.

Here is a Q&A about the flu and the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations:

QWhat is the flu?

AThe flu is caused by viruses that attack the lungs, nose, and throat. This group of viruses is very different from those that cause stomach upset and diarrhea — or what some call the stomach flu. Flu symptoms can be mild or severe, but typically cause a cough, sore throat, body aches, and fever. Usually, the flu is more severe than a cold, and symptoms start very suddenly.

QWho is at high risk for the flu?

AMost healthy people will recover from the flu without complications. But many people are in an age group or have a condition that places them at high risk for complications. These groups include:

• Children under age 5 years, but especially those under 2 years

• Adults over age 65 years

• Pregnant women

• People with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, lung and heart disease, chronic kidney disease and diabetes, weakened immune system, and obesity.

QHow effective is the flu vaccine?

AEfficacy can vary based on factors such as how healthy you are, how old you are, and whether you’ve been vaccinated before. While the vaccine won’t prevent every case of flu, it is the most specific tool we have against the flu. Even in years when efficacy is low, influenza vaccination prevents severe disease and death.

QIs the flu vaccine safe?

AYear after year, the flu vaccine is shown to be safe. They have been extensively studied for safety and are continually monitored. If you have not received your flu shot yet, it is not too late.


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