Avoid double threat of COVID-19 and flu

Lynn Fellinger, Director of Davis County Public Health, is urging the public to get their flu shots — now!

According to information put out by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the flu season can begin as early as October and usually peaks in January or February.

And this year, according to Robert Linnell, the lead provider for UI Quick Care, “it may be more important than ever to get your flu shot because of the double threat of COVID-19 and the flu, complicated by the many similarities between the two illnesses.

“Vaccinating for the flu will reduce the likelihood of someone having severe complications or symptoms that require testing or hospitalization at a time when COVID is in our communities,” he said.

IDPH defines the flu as a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses which usually cause a cough, fever, chills, sore throat, muscle or body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headache, and fatigue. Some people also experience nausea and diarrhea — especially children.

The flu can lead to death, but most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. Older people, young children, and people with certain pre-existing conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Similar to COVID-19, the flu can be transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes, spreading droplets to others. The flu can also be spread by touching a surface that has the flu virus on it, then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes. People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away.

According to IDPH, healthy persons are able to infect others one day before their symptoms develop or up to seven days after becoming ill. People with the flu tend to be most contagious three to four days after their illness begins.

Fellinger says the best way to prevent influenza is to receive vaccine every year, as flu strains tend to change each year. Changes in the vaccine are made to match the current strains of influenza.

Fellinger advises everyone six months of age and older be vaccinated annually. “It is especially important that those who are at high risk and those who care for them be vaccinated,” she said.

According to the CDC, People 65 years and older are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu compared to young, healthy adults.

Davis County Public Health is beginning its immunizations with flu shot clinics at the South Street Senior Apartments on Sept. 29 and a drive-thru clinic at the DC Fairgrounds from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 30.

Both pharmacies in Bloomfield are offering flu shots as well.