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Big Bend area health experts say flu vaccine more important than ever amid pandemic

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 18:20:01-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida is entering into an unprecedented intersection of seasons, combining coronavirus threats, hurricane season, and now flu season. Health experts say it's more important this year than ever to make sure you and your family get a flu shot.

Flu season runs from early October through May, and most often peaks in February.

Doctors say the flu vaccine can take a few weeks to kick in, which is why it's best to get vaccinated as early as possible.

For some, there is a fear of getting the flu shot due to myths that it actually gives you the flu.

Dr. Temple Robinson works at Bond Community Health and says that's not the case.

That side effects from the flu shot, like fever and fatigue, are generally mild and short lived.

However, these symptoms may also be signs of COVID-19, so it's important to be forthcoming at any screenings.

"If you are entering a facility they are screening you for doing temperature checks, and you have a fever, you should always be forthright," said Dr. Temple O. Robinson, MD, the CEO of Bond Community Health. "I just had an influenza shot yesterday or the day before. I have a fever, but regardless you should still put on masks, you should put on proper protective equipment because until you know, you don't know whether the fever is from your influenza shot or whether you may have other signs of COVID."

Robinson says the vaccine helps the body produce antibodies that can help prevent a severe bout with the bug. She says, just like with COVID19, it's especially important for people with underlying conditions.

"Historically, influenza, flu has a lot of complications potential of months of pneumonia being one of them life-threatening pneumonia and so influenza superimposed on COVID superimposed on diabetes, and heart disease is a bad combination," Robinson said.

While flu shots won't protect you from the coronavirus, Leon County Department of Health' Claudia Blackburn says it will reduce the burden of flu illness patients and deaths on individuals and the healthcare system.

"So it will help us to conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19," said Blackburn.

Robinson adds that her team offers primary care at mobile units throughout the city that can assist with flu concerns in addition to offering COVID-19 testing.

You can also visit the Leon County Health Department for flu vaccinations.

A new drive-up, mobile test site opens on October 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northeast Branch Library located at 5513 Thomasville Road.

It is open to patients of all ages, both symptomatic and asymptomatic.

No appointments are necessary, but they ask everyone to please wear a mask.