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Monday, Sept. 21, 2020

Time For a Flu Shot

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With fears of dual sickness, getting a flu shot has never been a smarter choice

Every year, health-care providers implore the community to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves, their friends and families, and their coworkers. This year, with our economy, area businesses, schools and healthcare entities already so impacted by COVID-19, the flu vaccine might be more important than ever. As COVID-19 is still causing so much illness across the region, any efforts made to keep from getting the flu has become vital for everyone.

Cara Permenter, M.D., CHRISTUS Primary Care Partners - Shreveport, says getting the flu shot is even more important this year because it may reduce the burden of illness and the number of flu cases. With the concern of co-infection with both the flu and COVID-19 infections, any advantage you can take is making an investment in yourself and your health.

“The Journal of the American Medical Association notes that although influenza’s impact varies from year to year, evidence clearly shows that vaccination can reduce flu severity and prevent hospitalizations,” said Dr. Permenter. “This is critically important at a time when the health-care system is also dealing with the coronavirus. By getting the flu shot, you are reducing your chances of catching the flu as well as reducing its severity and the potential need to seek medical attention. You are doing your part to conserve these already limited resources.”

Experts say that it is possible to contract both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Being infected with both influenza and COVID-19 can put an enormous strain on a body’s immune system and increase the potential severity of the illnesses. However, research shows that the seasonal flu vaccine will not interfere with the body’s ability to fight off COVID-19, and Dr. Permenter stresses the importance of taking this step to increase your body’s ability to fight off infections.

“We want to be sure that our patients understand the importance of the flu vaccine, but even more so this year. We know that people can get both simultaneously, and that presents a lot of challenges to doctors and healthcare systems. There are similarities. With both the flu and COVID-19, patients experience cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, sore throat,” Dr. Permenter said. “However, there are some really

important key differences. With the flu, those symptoms hit abruptly producing a more sudden onset of symptoms, and we have not had that type of experience with COVID. Additionally, COVID symptoms include the unusual symptoms of loss of smell or taste. Getting a flu shot helps your doctor better assess your symptoms, and it helps you protect yourself and your loved ones.”

Dr. Permenter says that getting a flu shot and practicing the same tactics that have been encouraged for months will help mitigate the risk of flu, as well as COVID, and will ease the burden on everyone.

“Good hand hygiene, wearing masks in crowded public areas, and social distancing – these things are helpful to reduce the risk of spread of any respiratory virus,” Dr. Permenter said, “both flu and COVID. This year it is important that we take any action we can to protect ourselves.”

Cara Permenter, M.D., CHRISTUS Primary Care Partners - Shreveport.


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