It’s that time of year where everywhere you go, from the drugstore to Walmart, you will be reminded to get your yearly flu shot. Some people may think we have nothing to worry about this year with social distancing and mask-wearing, but the science clearly states that no one should forgo a flu shot this year or any year. In fact, many worry that when you introduce the onset of flu season into the covid-19 pandemic you could be presented with a landslide of issues that ultimately result in more lives lost. Sticking with science, we ask you to “get stuck this fall,” to arm yourself as strongly as possible against the flu virus.

While we can list all the facts, point you in the right direction and encourage you to do your research and talk to your physician, there will always be naysayers. Those who say, “well I got the shot last year.” Ok great, that was last year, time to roll-up that sleeve for this year’s vaccine which is totally different. Some will say, “I am wearing a mask, that’s better than a flu shot.” Ummmm, last we knew the mask won’t actually help your body form the virus-fighting antibodies it needs, and while it can help with prevention, it is nowhere near as effective as the vaccine. Yet when you partner a mask with the vaccine you do give yourself a greater fighting chance to stay healthy this year. Not to mention, with no vaccine for the Coronavirus yet and so many people still being infected, we don’t want to add on to the strain of hospitals with flu cases that could have been prevented.

You might even be asking yourself why vaccines matter or if some people get them, do you need one too. It’s ok! Sometimes we don’t remember every topic from 8th-grade biology or maybe you never even took 8th-grade biology. Another term we hear a lot about is “herd immunity.” Let’s take a look:

What is a vaccine? The CDC describes it as, “Vaccines contain the same germs that cause disease. But they have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick…  A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first. This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.”

What is herd immunity? According to Harvard Medical School’s website, “Herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination, but it can also occur through natural infection.”

If everyone else gets the shot can you skip it? Well, no. Why would you rely on others if you can be the one to take matters into your own hands and even prevent the flu from spreading to those who can’t get the vaccine?  Andrea Smith, D.O. a family medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health System said, “If you give someone a vaccine, it not only helps prevent that person from getting the flu, but it also helps prevent them from giving the flu to someone else…that’s herd immunity.” Just like with Coronavirus and many other illnesses you can in fact carry the flu without knowing it and pass it on to others. For some they might have a week or so in bed and recover, while others may develop pneumonia and even die. We encourage you to ask around about the flu. Talk to people who have had it and they will tell you, “YOU DON’T WANT IT!” Some people (well lots of us) will get colds during flu season, and many mistake a bad cold for the flu, and doctors will tell you that that’s nothing compared to the real thing. Just think about that for a second. If a cold can stop us in our tracks and that’s just minimal compared to the flu, do you have the time and energy to battle the flu and maybe even battle for your life this flu season?

Here’s the deal though! If you do think you might have the flu, call your healthcare provider! Don’t wait!  Depending on the symptoms you are presenting they might have different courses of action. Keep in mind the flu and Coronavirus are both respiratory illnesses and the more details you can share with your provider the better. No one should fear calling their doctor or going in for an appointment due to the flu or Covid-19. The doctor’s office is there to help you! Especially with the flu, there is a window of time for medication that can help lessen your symptoms. They can’t best serve you and help you recover unless you let them. If you have concerns about the visit, please share them with your physician’s office and we are sure they will work with you to help you feel as comfortable as possible. Here at North Country Hospital our flu hotline number is (802)334-3595.

Lucky enough, here in the NEK there is no appointment required to get a flu shot! You can join North Country Hospital at one of our flu shot clinics coming up Wednesday, October 7th, 3 pm-7 pm or Saturday, October 10th, 8 am-12 noon at the ELKS club in Derby. Please practice social distancing, wear a mask and bring your insurance card if you have one. If you don’t live in our service area call your own doctor’s office to see about getting the vaccine. Let’s join together this season by continuing to wash our hands often, wearing our masks, staying socially distanced and of course, another way we can show we care about each other this season is by rolling up our sleeve to “Get stuck this fall!”


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center