Getting the flu vaccination is as important as ever as Alabama and the rest of the nation continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. While both illnesses are caused by a virus, the viruses are different and require separate vaccines, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, The Alabama Hospital Association and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama … statewide organizations urging Alabamians to start getting their flu shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated for the flu, particularly those at high risk for flu complications. Those considered at high risk include people 65 years and older, young children and people with chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease. Individuals who care for or live with these high-risk populations also should get vaccinated.

“It’s good to get your flu shot in September or by the end of October at the latest in order to be ready for the upcoming flu season,” said Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer.  “The good news is that this year’s vaccine protects against four different flu strains, so there is added protection.”

“Flu season is typically a busy time for hospitals, so just as we’ve pushed for individuals to get vaccinated for COVID-19, we’re strongly encouraging Alabamians to get their flu shot too,” said Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.  “Last year was an anomaly, and hospitals did not see the usual admissions associated with the flu because of social distancing, mask wearing and vaccination. With social distancing and mask wearing likely to be less common this winter, influenza vaccination becomes even more critical to avoid the health care system being overwhelmed from the combination of COVID and flu.” 

There are two options for getting a flu vaccination, the traditional shot or the nasal spray vaccine. Mark Jackson, executive director of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, stated that individuals should select the type of flu vaccination they get depending on factors such as their age, health status and relevant allergies, including egg allergies. He suggested that those with questions should visit the CDC website,  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

Individuals can get their flu vaccinations from their healthcare provider, as well as many retail pharmacies.  For more information, visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/flu/myths.html.

                                           

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