Exchange Flu Shots

A sign advertising flu shots is displayed on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in in Ogden, Utah. (Tim Vandenack/Standard-Examiner via AP)

The following editorial appeared in The (Mankato, Minnesota) Free Press, a CNHI newspaper. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune-Democrat.

Push your needle phobia to the back of your mind or take control of your tendency to procrastinate.

Go get a flu shot.

Being aggressive about preventing the flu is especially paramount this year with the double whammy of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The flu season alone is always a concern, and every fall health care experts urge everyone eligible to get a flu shot. Preliminary U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data for the 2019-2020 flu season found the flu to be a factor in at least 18 million visits to health providers in the U.S., 410,000 hospitalizations and as many as 64,000 deaths.

The flu vaccination not only protects you but the people you come into contact with and those who can’t get the shot for health reasons, including infants.

Unfortunately, you can’t yet get a shot against COVID-19, but by staving off the flu, you are also doing your part to not overwhelm the health care system and take up precious hospital beds.

The coronavirus is blamed for about 24 million infections and more than 810,000 deaths globally in just the first eight months of 2020.

And all of the same pandemic precautions we take, such as social distancing and wearing masks, can help protect against the flu as well.

South Africa usually sees widespread flu during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months of May through August. This year, testing tracked by the country’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases is finding almost none, something unprecedented, according to The Associated Press.

School closures, limited public gatherings and calls to wear masks and wash hands have “knocked down the flu,” said Dr. Cheryl Cohen, head of the institute’s respiratory program.

Members of the general population must do their part to protect themselves and others against the illness that can be fought with widespread immunization.

Don’t wait until the flu arrives to take care of this important preventive measure that is especially key during the outbreak of another dangerous respiratory illness.

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