Flu immunizations are very important this year

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With another season of the seasonal flu and continuing COVID concerns, questions arise regarding when to immunize and general safety.

Being immunized for both COVID and the flu is very important. Last year we were quarantined, social distanced and wore masks, and flu was minimal. This year we are not universally adopting the same safety measures. By getting both flu and COVID shots, you reduce the risk of severe illness when both viruses may be present.

Previously, the CDC recommended waiting 14 days between the COVID vaccine and any other vaccines, but it now recommends that you may get both the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine at the same time. You will want to have them administered in different arms in case you have a localized reaction. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider.

Because the flu comes in many different varieties, the most common flu shot in the U.S. protects you against four strains of influenza. Some flu shots also contain ingredients called adjuvants that create a stronger immune response, and flu shots for people over age 65 come in a high dose version to stimulate the immune system even more. Dangerous complications of the flu include pneumonia and other severe respiratory issues especially dangerous to the older population.

The flu shot usually is given by injection into the upper arm. It’s a quick, relatively painless procedure. The VNA Community Nurses who administer the immunization recommend that you shake out and dangle your arm to relax it before and during the shot, and then keep your arm moving all day to minimize discomfort.

Some people should talk to their doctors before getting a flu shot. For example, people with a severe gelatin/egg allergy or those with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome should check with a primary care doctor for specific advice. 

It takes a couple of weeks after both the COVID and flu shot for you to be protected. You should not wait for flu activity to be rising or high to get a flu vaccine. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated and ideally, everyone should be vaccinated before the end of October. Generally, if you actively have COVID, the flu vaccination should be deferred until you are no longer acutely ill. If in doubt, check with your doctor or the Farmington Valley Health District.

To schedule a flu vaccine with the Farmington Valley VNA, please go to farmingtonvalleyvna.org or call 860-651-3539.