Flu shots vitally important this year

September 11, 2020

Getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year

Madisonville, KY (Sept. 11, 2020) – Getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year, with the virus that causes COVID-19 – and the virus that causes flu – both spreading this fall and winter. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all people older than six months of age.

While there is disagreement among experts about the perfect time to get a flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October.

“The flu shot is important because it is like wearing a mask to help keep us from getting COVID-19. We take our flu shot, just like we wear our masks, to protect ourselves, but we also want to protect everyone else,” said Wayne Lipson, MD, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon and chief medical officer at Baptist Health Madisonville.

Typically, the flu season in Kentucky begins in October or November, however we are already seeing influenza infections in Kentucky during September.  If the flu shot is given too early, young children and adults over age 65 may see the vaccine’s strength weaken in the final weeks of the flu season, making people in these two groups more susceptible to catching the virus. Flu shots last about six months.

The influenza vaccine takes two weeks to be effective and you can catch the flu during those two weeks.

There are many strains of the flu virus, and there’s no guarantee that the combination chosen for this year means you won’t get the flu. However, getting the vaccine provides benefits even if the flu bug bites you.

“If you get the flu shot – but still get the flu – you’re likely to be much less sick,” Dr. Lipson added. “You are less likely to have to be in the hospital. If you are hospitalized, you will stay about four fewer days than those who are not vaccinated, and you are less likely to be in an intensive care unit.”

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are expected to be available this season.

Getting a flu shot

Baptist Health Urgent Care locations have flu vaccine on hand. Flu shots cost $40 for the basic flu shot and $70 for the high-dose vaccine which is recommended for those over age 65. The flu shot may be covered by your insurance.

To help maintain physical distancing, Baptist Health Madisonville will also offer drive-thru clinics at Baptist Health Urgent Care located at 1851 North Main in Madisonville and at 1010 Medical Center Drive in Powderly. Scheduled clinics will be from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 26 and Saturday, October 3. For future dates, and more information about flu, go to BaptistHealth.com/FluShot.

If these drive-thru clinic dates do not work for you, you may also get a flu shot at Baptist Health Urgent Care locations or your primary care/pediatrician’s office throughout the season.  To find the location nearest you, or to check clinic hours, go to BaptistHealthClinics.com.

Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Teams of researchers and physicians are testing possible solutions, including clinical trials.

Who should get the shot?

Baptist Health strongly supports the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendation that everyone six months of age and older should get the flu shot. In particular we especially encourage certain high-risk groups to be vaccinated, including:

  • Children age six through 59 months and their caregivers
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during flu season
  • Those age 50 or older
  • Those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater
  • Anyone over six-months-old with chronic health problems and their caregivers
  • Nursing home and long-term care facility residents
  • Healthcare workers.  Baptist Health requires its employees to have a flu shot unless there are medical or religious reasons why the person cannot be vaccinated.

Getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the flu, with its fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.

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