Vaccines help protect people – and society – from getting sick. Widespread vaccinations make it less likely that a susceptible person will encounter someone who has a particular disease. As we prepare for flu season in the midst of COVID-19, new questions arise. We sat down with Gundersen St. Elizabeth's Hospital and Clinics employee health nurse Julie Hirsch to help answer some important questions.
Q: Last year we saw a record-low number of flu cases. Do I need a flu shot this year?
Julie Hirsch: Thanks to widespread mask-wearing, remote work and school, and social distancing, we did see low numbers. But, flu shots help prevent outbreaks. And, with schools and workplaces reopening, you're in better shape to fight the flu if you get the vaccine. You also help protect the people around you.
Q: Who should get a flu shot?
JH: Anyone six months and older, unless your doctor has recommended that you not get a flu shot.
Q: When is the best time to get a flu shot?
JH: Flu season starts in October and ends in April. Although it's best to get vaccinated in October, getting the shot at any time during flu season can still be beneficial.
Q: Can I get the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
JH: Yes – absolutely. If you do get two shots on the same day, expect to get each vaccine in a different arm. This helps reduce and pain and swelling.
Q: The increase in COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant are making me anxious about going to a clinic or pharmacy for a flu shot. What can I do?
JH: Our staff all wear masks and eye protection to help keep everyone safe. And, we do our best to space outpatients and appointments. But, if you're concerned, schedule your shot for an off-hour – either early or late in the day.
Q: How can I prepare for the flu shot?
JH: Drink plenty of water. After you get the shot, do some simple arm stretches and exercises to prevent getting a sore arm.
Q: When will Gundersen St. Elizabeth's begin offering flu shots for the public?
JH: You can get your flu shot beginning in October. Stay tuned to our Facebook page (GHSStElizabeth) for more information.
Decorah man grateful for what he has despite losing finger
Movin’ & More with Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics
Man thankful for care team following life-altering accident
Project SEARCH students celebrate graduation and new jobs