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Influenza and COVID-19: Why Vaccination Is So Important

Influenza and COVID-19: Why Vaccination Is So Important

As we enter into flu season, it’s critical that individuals get vaccinated. Although COVID-19 and influenza are both viral in nature, and even carry some of the same symptoms, they do require separate vaccines. That’s why getting both vaccinations this year is so important.

Melissa Deen, BSN, RN, PHN, Infection Prevention Manager at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH), shares important information community members need to know about flu season.

Flu Season Timeline

Typically, flu season starts in autumn and continues through March or April of the following year. The United States looks at global trends, such as what has been happening in the southern hemisphere in Australia or South Africa. At SVMH, they also look at national trends--starting with the East Coast.

“We usually find that the flu will track and trend towards us. The CDC picks variations of the virus to use in its vaccines. This year, the CDC is producing four variations of the influenza virus for the flu vaccine. So, what this shot does is give you antibodies for those four variations of the flu. The goal is to help prevent or circumvent hospitalization and severe illness,” explains Deen.

At-Risk Populations

Relying upon decades of research, medical scientists have identified specific populations that tend to be more at risk for falling victim to the flu. This includes:

  • Adults over age 65
  • Individuals with asthma or chronic respiratory symptoms
  • People with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and a history of stroke
  • Those who are immunocompromised (e.g. patients who have been diagnosed or on therapy for cancer, HIV, or AIDS)
  • Pregnant women
  • Infants and young children under age five

“These are all populations where we focus and promote vaccination as a major part of prevention for both flu and currently for COVID,” notes Deen.

To listen to an in-depth conversation on this topic with Melissa Deen, BSN, RN, PHN, Infection Prevention Manager at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, click here.

Where Can You Get Vaccinated?

Make a visit to your doctor’s office or head to your local pharmacy to get your flu or COVID-19 vaccine.

“We're encouraging everyone to be vaccinated, whether they're six months old or 80-plus years old; anybody with a chronic illness or with a potential risk for significant or severe illness, especially those at-risk populations. Honestly, anyone who could be vaccinated, should be vaccinated,” urges Deen.

Those individuals who have not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine can actually get their flu vaccine at the same time. “Guidelines state they should be given at different locations. So, flu shot in the left arm, COVID shot in the right arm, and you're good to go. We know that both vaccines are safe and can be given safely and effectively together,” adds Deen.

“I think the most important thing for our community is that we vaccinate both for flu and for COVID in order for us to get back to the lives and activities we love and enjoy,” she continues. “Getting vaccinated means we keep our families, our coworkers, our friends, and our entire community safe.”

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