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'Tis the Season: Get Your Flu Shot

From Dr. Mary Beth Saunders, System Medical Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention with Lee Health

Flu season has officially begun.

Influenza – commonly called the flu – is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.

Flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can also result in more serious illness for some. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications. 

Flu season generally runs from October to March, which is why it’s important to get your flu vaccine as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. The CDC recommends that you should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, before flu begins spreading in the community. It is your best defense against the flu. Doctors recommend that everyone over 6 months old get vaccinated each year.

Some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, but flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.

If you haven’t yet gotten your COVID-19 vaccine, I encourage you to do that also, as soon as possible. While the Delta surge is decreasing in our community, the threat of COVID-19 still exists and getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent catching the deadly virus.

The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death.

You can even get both your COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine the same day. There is no need to wait between the two vaccines. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are available at Lee Health’s Community Vaccination Clinic, which is located inside Gulf Coast Medical Center. It’s open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. You can make an appointment by visiting www.leehealth.org.

You can visit a Lee Health provider to receive your flu vaccination.

In addition to getting your vaccine, please remember to always practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands as often as possible, and stay home if you’re sick.