Millions of people across the globe get flu shots each year to protect against influenza, but the vaccine might provide even greater benefits in 2020. As the world continues to confront the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, it’s imperative that people everywhere take necessary steps to protect themselves and others.
“We are still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Cumberland County,” said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. “As we enter the flu season, we must protect our healthcare and frontline workers. Getting your flu shot is a simple way to help these heroes who have been fighting this pandemic tirelessly since March.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a flu vaccine will not protect people against COVID-19. However, flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of illness related to the flu. Those illnesses weaken people’s immune systems, making them more vulnerable to other viruses, including COVID-19.
Flu vaccines have also been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization. That’s a significant benefit of being vaccinated, as people who get their flu shots can indirectly help hospitals conserve potentially scarce resources. As the COVID-19 virus rapidly spread late in the winter of 2019-20, many hospitals across the country and even the globe were stretched incredibly thin. So, anything ordinary citizens can do to alleviate such burdens can help save lives while also making hospital workers’ jobs easier and less stressful.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is now offering free flu vaccinations regardless of insurance status. To protect the health and safety of staff and clients, flu vaccines at the Immunization Clinic located in the Health Department at 1235 Ramsey, St. are by appointment only.
The public must call 910-321-7116 to make an appointment to receive the flu vaccine at the Cumberland County Health Department Immunization Clinic. Upon arrival at the clinic, participants will complete a short registration form and if insured, a copy of insurance cards will be captured, and the insurance company will be billed. Participants will not receive a bill for flu vaccines.
Children, 18 and younger, can also receive a free flu vaccine through the Vaccines for Children program. Anyone accompanying a minor must show proof of custody.
Many people may be concerned about going out and getting a flu shot in 2020. That’s especially likely for people who live in communities where the COVID-19 virus is spreading. However, the CDC notes that getting a flu shot in 2020 is an essential part of protecting your health and the health of your family.
Many doctor’s offices are now insisting patients wait in their cars until doctors are ready to see them, and masks may be required when entering the doctor’s office. Such measures can reduce the risk of getting the COVID-19 virus when visiting a doctor’s office for a flu shot or another visit, so patients should not be hesitant to receive their vaccinations in 2020. Patients can follow such protocols even if their doctors are not insisting they do so. The same safety measures can be followed by people who intend to get their flu shots from neighborhood pharmacies.
Community Flu Shot Clinics
The Health Department is also partnering with community agencies to offer free flu vaccine clinics throughout the county. The public can choose between drive-thru or in-person flu vaccine services. No appointments are required for community flu clinics. Drive-thru clinics begin Nov. 10.
To protect the health and safety of staff and clients, flu vaccinations given by drive-up cannot accommodate those on foot. Directional signage will guide the public through the registration line. Individuals receiving a vaccination must sit next to an operational window, be wearing a mask and remain in vehicles. Staff will administer flu vaccinations through the window. Individuals in middle or third row seats cannot be vaccinated.
There is a drive-thru flu clinic scheduled Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Falling Run Baptist Church located at 2852 Cedar Creek Rd.
Another drive-thru flu clinic is scheduled Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Alliance Health located at 711 Executive Pl.
An In-Person Community Clinic is scheduled Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fayetteville State University’s Rudolph Jones Student Center—The Bronco Lounge, located at 1200 Murchinson Rd.
No appointments are required for community flu clinics. As they are scheduled, additional community clinics will be posted on http://www.co.cumberland.nc.us/fluclinic
Is it flu or COVID-19?
There are some key differences between COVID-19 and the flu. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to
Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
“While many unknowns surrounding COVID-19 remain, we do know having a cough, fever or fatigue can be symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19,” said Dr. Green. “At least one symptom that COVID-19 and flu do not share is the loss of taste many COVID-19 positive individuals report.”
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. The CDC updates information daily and has the best available information to date.