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You can avoid the "twindemic" of flu and COVID-19 by getting a flu shot

Posted at 1:27 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 15:27:09-04

In a normal year in the United States, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to influenza.

In 2019, only 40 percent of Utahns got a flu shot.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare resources are being watched closely. This year it's more important than ever to get a flu shot to avoid what experts are calling the "twindemic" of flu and COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.

Smith's Pharmaist Jayme Garcia joined us to tell us about the upcoming flu season.

She says it's important to get a flu shot because it greatly reduces the chance of severe illness from the flu, and also reduces the risk of serious complications, like being hospitalized. Jayme explained that flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body, which provide protection against infection. Flu vaccines are fully protective about two weeks after vaccination.

The symptoms of the flu are often similar to those we are watching for with COVID-19. Both cause primarily upper respiratory infections. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. People may also experience: dehydration, loss of appetite, or sweating, nasal congestion, runny nose, or sneezing. Other common symptoms are chest discomfort, head congestion, nausea, shortness of breath, sore throat, or swollen lymph nodes. Of course, like with COVID-19, some people will experience more severe symptoms or serious complications from the flu.

Jayme says there are many strains of the flu viruses. The two strains that are most prevalent and cause the most illness are types A and B. Flu vaccines provide protection against 4 strains of type A and B viruses. Different strains of the flu virus mutate over time and replace the older strains of the virus. This is why it's important to get a flu shot each year to ensure that your body develops immunity to the strains of the virus that are most recently circulating.

Smith's is sponsoring a Flu Shot Drive-Thru Saturday, October 10, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the Maverik Center at 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive in West Valley City.

The drive-thru clinic is a great option for high-risk individuals who may choose not to get their vaccine inside a Smith's store. The event will offer the flu vaccine only. Smith's requests that participants make an appointment and complete registration online prior to their visit at smithsfoodanddrug.com/flu (enter zip code 84119). "Drive-ups" without appointments are also welcome while supplies last. Many insurance companies cover the flu shot with no co-pay.