Aspirus urges flu shots early in 2020-21 season
As Aspirus prepares for the 2020-21 flu season, health experts urge everyone that while a flu shot is always recommended, this year getting a flu shot is more important than ever.
Amid the existing COVID-19 pandemic, two serious viruses will be circulating concurrently. Both COVID and influenza can lead to serious illness and even death.
Everyone six months or older should get a flu shot with rare exceptions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving a flu shot before the end of October, as it takes about two weeks after a vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and protect against the flu. People should get a flu shot before flu viruses begin spreading in their communities.
Aspirus recommends contacting a primary care provider to schedule a flu shot. Scheduled appointments allow for proper social distancing and safety precautions. Appointments may also reduce wait times.
This year, the flu season could potentially put added strain on health care systems. COVID testing capacity is already stretched; while preventing illness, receiving a flu shot can also possibly help avoid the need for testing to rule out COVID as many COVID and flu symptoms are similar.
“To promote social distancing and reduce time spent in the waiting room, we’re asking community members who are concerned about COVID or flu symptoms to first call our COVID Hotline Center at 844-568-0701 or 715-843-1454,” said Barb Lato, vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer at Aspirus Medford Hospital. “Our call center staff will triage your call to the appropriate department and efficiently start your care process.”
Each year, on average, influenza results in an estimated 226,000 hospital admissions and 36,000 deaths nationwide. Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Flu shots are safe, and studies show that they reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
For more information, or to find a primary care provider and receive your flu shot at an Aspirus location near you, go online to https://www.aspirus.org/ or call the Aspirus Customer Contact Center at 800-847-4707.