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Don't wait to get your flu shot

If you haven’t done it in past years for whatever reason, now, more than ever it’s time to get your flu shot. Don’t take our word for it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the best way to help limit COVID-19 is flu prevention.

It’s so critical now, the Oregon Health Authority has ordered seven times the normal number of flu vaccinations. It is concerned how the flu might exacerbate COVID-19 infections, according to a recent Bend Bulletin story by health reporter Suzanne Roig.

The CDC has recommended people get a flu shot by the end of October, since it takes two to four weeks for the vaccine to become effective. One still can get a shot after that, but the optimum time is now. Most pharmacies, large grocery store chains and health care clinics are offering the shot for people carrying insurance.

According to the CDC, the flu has sickened 9 million to 45 million people a year with 39 million becoming ill last year and as many as 62,000 dying from the illness (COVID-19 deaths have topped 225,000 in the U.S. alone).

A recent story in U.S. News and World Report said while health officials worry about a potential twindemic of COVID-19 and the flu this winter, a new study finds hospital patients who were infected with both viruses were more than twice as likely to die as those infected only with the new coronavirus. A flu shot is one way to avoid that dire situation.

If you still have doubts, look to the Southern Hemisphere. Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere is from June through September, as it is winter there now. Australia, for example, has had a mild flu season for two very important reasons. The first was the country imposed strict social distancing regulations on its citizens at the outset of COVID-19. Then, the government was aggressive about ensuring citizens received a flu shot; some three to four times the amount got the shot than the previous year.

If the US. follows suit, a mild flu season will help reduce that distraction from fighting COVID.

Meanwhile, as far as a COVID-19 vaccine for the U.S., the CDC predicts it will not be available at the earliest until mid-2021, most likely after flu season abides. Again, one more reason to take the shot.