Thursday, September 2, 2021
As students return to in-person learning while social distancing and mask mandates are less in evidence, local health officials are urging residents to get a flu shot to prevent an uptick in the number flu and COVID-19 cases.
“We could be in for a more serious flu season compared to last year, which saw record-low flu-related deaths, thanks in large part to people wearing masks and maintaining social distance,” said Kurt Larrick, Assistant Director, Arlington County Department of Human Services
“This year, people are out and about more, so getting a flu shot is important.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
“While we all are focused on COVID-19, flu can also cause severe illness and death, particularly in people who are older and have underlying medical conditions,” said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Fairfax County Health Department's Director of Epidemiology and Population Health. “The CDC recommends that the COVID vaccine can be given at the same time as the flu shot. This can make it more convenient for people to get protected against both infections. As many people will be getting COVID boosters in the fall, if they haven't received their annual flu shot yet, that would be a great time to do so.”
“Since the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine do not contain any live virus, there is no chance of getting infected from either one,” Schwartz said.
In an effort to maximize the number of patients who can receive both vaccines, local pharmacies have set up mobile clinics where flu, COVID-19 and COVID-19 booster vaccines can be administered.
“Giant’s pharmacies throughout the area are ready to help residents get their seasonal flu vaccine with no appointment needed, and often covered in-full by most insurance plans,” said Sujin Roberge, Manager of Clinical Programs at Giant Pharmacy. “Giant pharmacists will continue administering COVID-19 vaccines, including a third dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine for immunocompromised individuals. Booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be available at Giant pharmacies once approved by the CDC.”
Health officials say that some have questioned the necessity of receiving both vaccines. “Even if you have received the COVID vaccine, you should still get a flu vaccine,” said Larrick. “Neither protects from the other. The flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID, and the COVID vaccines will not protect you against the flu. Both flu and COVID are potentially deadly diseases that are preventable with vaccinations.”