Flu vaccinations especially important in 2020

October 6, 2020

Getting your flu shot is always important, but this year with the additional circulation of the novel coronavirus, health officials urge that it may be even more so.

That is because people who get sick with multiple viruses at the same time are quite often much sicker; and having one illness may make you more susceptible to getting another.

“People may not know the flu vaccine is also an important tool for those with chronic health conditions,” said Danielle Dudley, immunizations program manager with Garfield County Public Health. “Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events for people with heart disease. It can also reduce more severe symptoms and hospitalization in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.”

“Being sick with the flu is bad enough. In a year with flu and COVID, I wouldn’t want to contract multiple illnesses at once,” said Carrie Godes, Public Health Specialist for Garfield County.

“Two years ago, my sister and I both contracted influenza around the same time. Every person’s body is of course unique, but our illnesses were very different. We were both in our thirties and healthy active people. I had received my flu shot, my sister had not. Her illness was significantly more severe with a high fever and two weeks of not feeling well. I experienced much more mild symptoms, with only a low fever for three days in total.

“This is obviously not the story for everyone, and flu illness, even with the vaccine can still be severe in some individuals,” continued Godes. “In my case, it definitely felt like the shot lessened my severity of symptoms, which I was incredibly grateful for.”

The health department is frequently asked if people can contract the flu from the flu shot. “The vaccine cannot give you the flu – it is an inactivated virus,” said Dudley. “After getting the vaccine, you may feel a bit achy. That is typically your immune system being triggered by the vaccine. It is your body’s normal response, ramping up to protect itself.”

The Centers for Disease Control indicates recent studies found flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40-60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.

Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor visits each year. For example, during 2018-2019, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 4.4 million influenza illnesses, 2.3 million influenza-associated medical visits, 58,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 3,500 influenza-associated deaths.

Garfield County Public Health is making appointments for flu shots at the health office locations in Glenwood Springs and Rifle and will be providing walk-up, outdoor flu shot clinics.

Clinics will be held:
Friday, October 16, 11 am – 2 pm

Rifle Branch Library, East Avenue on-street parking

Saturday, October 17, 1 pm – 3 pm

Carbondale Branch Library, 320 Sopris Ave., south courtyard area

Thursday, October 22, 12 pm – 3 pm

Glenwood Springs Branch Library, 815 Cooper Ave., courtyard area

Friday, October 23, 12 pm – 2 pm

Ritter Plaza in New Castle, Main Street, between Lazy Bear and An Exquisite Design.

The health department accepts Medicaid, Medicare Part B, CHP+, RMHP, BCBS, and UHC.

Cost without insurance is $15 children, $25 adults, $60 high-dose vaccine (for those 65 and older without Medicare Part B). Individuals will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to administration of the flu vaccine.

For more information, visit garfield-county.com/public-health/flu-information/ or contact Garfield County Public Health in Rifle at 970-625-5200 or in Glenwood Springs at 970-945-6614.

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