LA CROSSE/EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – While an approved COVID-19 vaccine is still not available, there is one that can prevent a similar illness. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler has more on the importance of getting your flu shot this year.
The past six months have seen many focus on the coronavirus. Now as we enter fall, health officials are worried about another virus, Influenza.
Megan Meller, Gundersen Infection Preventionist said, “It’s really important that everyone gets their flu shot this year because what we don’t want is a twindemic. What that means is you have two epidemics going on at the same time.
Last year, only 42 percent of Wisconsinites got the flu vaccine, according to the Wisconsin Health Department.
Health officials say you do not have to wait 12 months to get the shot again.
Dr. Charles Peters, Mayo Clinic Consultant Pediatrician said, “The idea is that you get it each flu season and the ideal time to get the flu vaccine is right now at the beginning of the season.”
Both Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System are already offering flu shots. Anyone is eligible once they turn six months old.
“Babies as young as six months of age can receive the influenza vaccine and then the first time they receive it, they typically receive a booster of it about one month later to be fully protected,” said Peters.
Meller said, “For those over the age of 65 we offer a high dose which is a more concentrated version of the influenza shot. For our patients who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions that put them at risk of more severe illness from the flu, we have another vaccine called the flula.”
Health professionals add COVID and flu symptoms can look the same.
“This is one of our fears in healthcare going into the influenza season is that they are very similar. Both present with colds, some present with chills,” said Meller.
Studies show the flu tends to have a more rapid onset whereas COVID can be more gradual. Those with any COVID symptoms are encouraged to get tested.
Walgreens and CVS are also offering the flu vaccine right now with varying age requirements. While some people who get the vaccine still end up with the flu, health experts say symptoms are typically milder with a faster recovery.
In La Crosse, Hayley Spitler, First News at Nine.