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Get ahead of the curve this flu season, get your shot now

By Staff | Sep 16, 2020

As COVID-19 pandemic numbers show some hoped-for improvement, health officials are issuing a companion health alert for residents: Get a flu shot and get it now.

The Florida Department of Health-Lee and the Centers for Disease Control are making their annual pleas early this year in advance of the upcoming flu season which typically begins ramping up in October and then peaks in December through February.

According to the CDC “your flu shot is the first and most important step to fight the flu.

“Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk from flu; many of whom are also at high risk for COVID-19 or serious outcomes,” the CDC states on its website, cdc.gov/flu .

DOH-Lee has much the same message.

“The flu vaccine reduces the risk of influenza-related illness, hospitalization and death,” the agency states. “Increasing flu vaccination preserves valuable healthcare resources for COVID-19 and other conditions.”

About 40 percent of Floridians get a flu shot annually.

Like COVID-19, the flu is a viral illness that, for many, is relatively mild.

But for those at risk, each can be deadly, and yes, the flu can kill.

The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in “between 9 million — 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 — 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 — 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.”

Those at high risk are many of the same individuals at high risk of serious complications from COVID-19 — those 65 and older and those with existing medical conditions.

Also at high risk of serious complications from the flu are children 2 and younger, pregnant women and those who have recently given birth.

According to the FDOH website, lee.floridahealth.gov, the Department of Health in Lee County now has seasonal flu vaccine available by appointment.

Vaccinations for children through the age of 18 are free.

The flu vaccine for adults 19 years and older is $16.39, and the High-Dose flu vaccine for adults 65 years and older is $46.41, according to the website, which adds that prices are subject to change and do not include an administration fee. Those whose primary provider is Medicare Part B can bring their Medicare card and the agency will bill Medicare.

Call 239-461-6100 for an appointment.

DOH-Lee also has the pneumonia vaccine available. There is a fee. Those whose primary provider is Medicare Part B can bring their Medicare card and the agency will bill Medicare for this vaccine as well.

Flu shots are, of course, also available at a number of private providers, from your doctor’s office to local pharmacies.

We add our voices to those within the health care community urging flu shots this year for, well, everyone.

COVID-19 is enough to worry about.

The last thing anyone needs to add to the viral mix is a potentially serious bout of the flu, especially when a vaccine is readily available.

–Neighbor editorial