By Faye Gaston
Three health groups have joined forces to urge Alabamians to get vaccinated for the flu. They note that with the additional impact of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to get a flu shot and get it early. This year is especially complicated.
Flu and COVID-19 are different infections but share many of the same symptoms---fever, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. These similarities make it more challenging to diagnose and treat. Getting a flu vaccine will reduce the chances of possible misdiagnoses and get both diseases at the same time.
Persons at high risk for getting the flu include young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions. Health care workers should get the flu vaccine, especially those who work in long-term facilities that are home to many people who are most susceptible to flu and COVID-19.
People who live with those who are high risk should be vaccinated. People who care for infants younger than six months should be vaccinated.
Dr. John Meigs, President of the Medical Association, said, "While the highest risk is for those with underlying conditions, we have lost thousands of healthy adults and children each year to the flu."
Dr. Scott Harris, State Health Officer, said, " Sadly, last year only half of Americans got the flu vaccination, and more than 400,000 were hospitalized for the flu. Getting vaccinated is easy and can lower the risk of the flu, doctors' visits, hospitalization, and even death.
The vaccine also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke among high-risk groups."
The three groups who have banded together to urge getting the early flu shot are the Alabama Hospital Association, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Annual flu shots should be given to all persons six months of age or older. Contact your private physician, pharmacy, or Bullock County Health Department Clinic to find a local provider of flu vaccinations.