Every year Lakes Regional Healthcare and Dickinson County Public Health (DCPH) encourage people to get the annual influenza vaccination, or “flu shot,” and this year it’s even more important. DCPH Director of Population and Public Health Katy Burke, who also serves on Lakes Regional Healthcare’s COVID-19 Task Force, says there are many reasons to get a flu shot.
Influenza is a serious illness. For some, the flu leads to hospitalization and even death. It can be especially serious among young children, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. A flu shot decreases your chances of getting the flu. Burke noted that each year the CDC makes educated predictions on which flu viruses will be the most common and a vaccine is developed including those viruses. She said, “If you get exposed to a flu virus the flu shot is not created for, you may still get that specific strain of flu virus. However, vaccinated individuals that become sick with other flu strains are likely to have milder symptoms when compared to people that do not get a flu shot.”
At a time when people are being vigilant about not getting COVID-19, it’s important to know that the flu can be mistaken for COVID-19 because the symptoms of both are nearly identical. Burke said, “Both are respiratory illnesses and have symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat, and cough. If you end up having symptoms, we will encourage you to get tested for both viruses.”
Flu shot clinics are held at DCPH every Wednesday from 1:00 until 5:30 pm for everyone 6 months of age and older. An appointment is necessary to get a flu shot, and can be scheduled by calling DCPH at 712-339-6050. Those that cannot come during the flu shot clinic hours can schedule an appointment for another day and time during the week. The cost per vaccination is $30 if it is not covered by insurance. Many insurance providers fully cover the cost of the vaccine. Medicare B eligible clients and those with health insurance must bring their Medicare or insurance cards with them.
For more information about the influenza vaccine, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm/.