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October is the ideal time to get a flu vaccine

As we head into our second flu season during the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials are waiting to see what will transpire.

Will there be a twindemic? Will mask wearing and social distancing pay off by giving us a lighter flu season, although that’s not a given now that mask mandates have been lifted and you don’t see them as often these days.

Either way, it’s always best to be prepared and get a flu vaccine. And if you haven’t gotten a COVID vaccine yet, you know Monongalia County Health Department is recommending that one as well.

Of course, even in normal times, you don’t want to get the flu, which can be severe enough to kill people, especially individuals with pre-existing conditions.

The flu can keep you flat on your back with symptoms that can be similar to those of COVID. You don’t want to have to wonder which one you have, so getting inoculated against both is best.

Being co-infected with  COVID and the flu also would be a miserable and dangerous combination.

And if you need to go to see a doctor or to be hospitalized, you know that could be problematic. It took about a year and a half of the pandemic for it to happen, but area hospitals have been overwhelmed with COVID patients recently. Space has opened up and hospitals aren’t as overwhelmed as they were a few weeks ago, but you still want to avoid needing to go there if you can.

During the 2019-20 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths.

COVID-19 has proven to be deadlier, with nearly 750,000 deaths in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s compared to around 211,000 this time last year.

Getting your flu and COVID vaccines at Monongalia County Health Department’s Clinical Services is a very safe procedure. You can make an appointment by calling 304-598-5119. We’re still masked here at the health department and everyone walks through a temperature scanner to enter the health department.

Insurance can be billed for the flu vaccine. Otherwise, it costs $25. MCHD Clinical Services also has high-dose vaccines that are recommended for anyone 65 and older.

October is considered the sweet spot — the ideal time frame — by MCHD’s public health nurses for people to be inoculated against the flu.

Any earlier, and you risk your protection waning before flu season is over. In West Virginia, flu can last until April and sometimes even May. It takes about two weeks for a flu shot to become fully effective, so you don’t want to wait too long.

That said, at MCHD Clinical Services, we also like to say it’s never too late to get your flu shot, even if it’s December or January. But you’re risking getting the flu during that time period.

And if you plan to gather with family and friends for the holidays, get inoculated at least two weeks prior so the vaccine will be fully effective.

It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. Children, older people and those with conditions that compromise their immune system are especially vulnerable to flu and should be inoculated. Pregnant women should be vaccinated to protect themselves as well as their unborn babies, who will not be able to receive protection until they are 6 months old.

Please consider scheduling your flu vaccine now. You can get one at your doctor’s office or at MCHD Clinical Services. Once again, call 304-598-5119 to make an appointment.

Contact Mary Wade Burnside at

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