Influenza immunizations are important every year. But this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza vaccinations are more important than ever, said Amber Brunow, infection preventionist with Jefferson Community Health & Life.
The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age or older. The CDC recommends that vaccination be during October, if possible. Earlier vaccination could mean suboptimal immunity by the end of influenza season. Once the vaccine is administered, it takes about 2 weeks for peak immunity to develop. The flu season typically starts in about November, so October is optimal timing for most flu seasons.
The influenza virus can cause mild to severe symptoms, and can lead to death, especially among those who have additional risk factors: age (65 and older or 2 and younger), immune compromised, chronic health conditions or pregnancy.
Influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Some symptoms are similar, so testing will typically be needed to determine whether a person has influenza or COVID-19. The CDC says it is possible for a person to have influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.
“The same measures which can protect us against COVID-19 can also protect us against influenza,” Brunow said. “Masking, social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, staying home when you are ill, and avoiding crowds are all great preventative measures from spreading influenza and COVID-19.”
Influenza vaccination clinics are being planned for Jefferson Community Health & Life for October. This year appointments will be required, and vaccinations can be billed to insurance or be private pay. Watch for flu shot clinic details in late September.
Influenza vaccinations will also be available during any health care appointments at Fairbury or Plymouth clinics.
Please note some information specific to children.
*Children 8 and under will need two doses of the influenza vaccination one month apart if they have not had the influenza vaccine before.
*Children 18 and under who are covered by Medicaid can’t get their flu vaccines at these special influenza clinics or at the Fairbury or Plymouth Clinic. They must use a clinic which participates in the Vaccines for Children program. The Blue Valley Community Action Immunization Clinic which holds clinics twice a month at JCH&L offers Vaccines for Children immunizations.