CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD) is making it easier for people to get their flu shot, saying this year may be the most important year to get your vaccine.
Cars, filled with people ready to get vaccinated, lined up for the district’s first free, drive-thru flu shot event. Within two, 167 people had come and gone. Infection disease expert Dr. William Petri says the sooner you get your vaccine, the better.
“It provides about four or five months of immunity, and flu season is going to be from late October to early March, so now’s the perfect time to get the vaccine," Petri. “If you’re over age 65, each year you have a 1 in 650 chance of dying from influenza and its complication, so the way to protect our elderly population, is by universal immunization. Quite often it’s going to be the grandchild who gives influenza to the grandparent."
Health professionals, including TJHD’s Emergency Manager Jessica Coughlin, say it is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
“COVID by itself or the flu by itself can be absolutely miserable," Coughlin explained. “We don’t know what your reaction will be to either one of these vaccines and then, a double whammy of getting them at the same time, and then even the common cold on top of that.”
It’s important to be COVID-19 free when you come for the shot.
“A vaccine is given and then your body reacts by developing antibodies. If your body is already sick, we don’t want your body going into more overdrive developing antibodies for a completely separate virus,” Coughlin.
A vaccine does not impact someone’s risk of getting COVID-19, but it can drastically reduce the number of people with intense respiratory illness in the healthcare system, relieving some pressure from clinics and hospitals.
Even when you get your flu shot, you should still take as many precautions as possible.