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  • Cydney Thompson, Northeast Arkansas News

Health officials encourage flu vaccine now more than ever

While we are still in the middle of a pandemic, health officials are still encouraging people to get a flu shot.

For the past 7 months the attention has been on covid-19 but with flu season slowly approaching, health officials say the time now is more important than ever to get a flu shot.

“There’s a few reasons for this, one is that we don’t want to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time,” Arkansas Health Department, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said.

When you get the symptoms of the flu, they are similar to covid-19 and can be difficult to tell the difference.

According to the CDC the flu sickens millions each year and this year the flu virus and virus that causes COVID-19 could also be spread this fall and winter.

Dillaha says because there is so much of an overlap of symptoms between COVID and the flu, the only way to tell the difference is by going to the doctor and being tested.

“So, if you would like to prevent going to the doctor, do what you can by preventing yourself from getting the flu by getting the flu vaccine,” Dillaha said.

They suggest those with pre-existing health conditions and women who are pregnant should get the vaccinated this year.

Dr. Dillaha says every year many people end up in the hospital as a result of the flu that could have been prevented with a flu vaccine.

“This year our hospitals systems are very much stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic and we don’t want to add to it. So, getting a flu vaccine can go along way and keeping people out of the hospital and keeping them alive if they do get the flu,” Dillaha said.

Walgreens and CVS offer free flu shots with most insurance.

“Health departments and local health units around the state will have flu vaccine available and many will be doing drive thru clinics where you can drive thru and get your flu shot,” Dillaha said.

Flu season usually doesn’t start until October and extends until spring. It would be best to talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have concerns.


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