Want to stay active this winter? A flu shot can help!
Oct. 24, 2023
By Mary Wade Burnside
I got my flu shot last Tuesday and it was pretty easy.
Sure, working at Monongalia County Health Department makes it very convenient for me. But the arm soreness was so minor that I keep forgetting that I even got vaccinated.
And I feel a lot more confident about facing the coming months. During the pandemic, I had become accustomed to avoiding crowds, exercise opportunities and events. But in the last year I’ve been out and about and mingling with people.
I really don’t want to stop going to yoga classes or the gym, and I have some tickets to a few shows too.
So getting the flu and COVID vaccines, which I did this morning, are part of my planned arsenal for staying healthy during winter while still maintaining activities, as flu and RSV are expected to rise just as we’re seeing additional COVID cases.
Monongalia County Health Department has been doing its part to make sure the county is inoculated against flu, which can cause symptoms including fatigue, cough and fever but can also result in death, especially for older individuals and those with compromised immune systems.
Appointments for flu vaccines can be made by calling 304-598-5119, but area residents will also have two chances this Wednesday to attend a public flu shot clinic.
The first one will be held by MCHD Clinical Services at the Mountaineer Mall off Green Bag Road, for the general public as well as OLLI and Senior Mon members, from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Oct. 25. In addition to regular and high-dose flu shots, we’ll also have pneumonia and RSV vaccines available too for those who meet the age requirements. Flu shots can be given to insured and uninsured individuals.
Then, from 3 to 6 p.m., MCHD Threat Preparedness will conduct a drive-through flu shot clinic at Morgantown Municipal Airport, offering flu vaccines for insured and uninsured individuals as well as high-dose inoculations.
You also might want to check out our new Events Calendar on our website. Go to monchd.org and you will see the Events Calendar tab in the center first row under For Your Convenience.
In the meantime, our public health nurses have been keeping up an ambitious schedule of about 50 “flu-outs,” going out into the community to provide flu vaccines. Most of these are public schools, county offices and private businesses, but the mall and airport events provide an opportunity for anyone to get their inoculation without making an appointment.
For many, a flu shot is crucial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 2010 and 2020, flu resulted in 9 million to 41 million illnesses in the United States, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 52,000 deaths annually.
Of course, most people recover from the flu, but that usually means time away from work. And if children get it, parents then need to stay home or arrange for childcare for their sick kids.
Symptoms of flu can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea also can occur, but this is more common in children than adults.
Anyone over the age of 6 months can get a flu vaccine and certain individuals, including pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, are encouraged to be especially vigilant about getting a vaccine.
Jennifer Goldcamp, RN, MCHD Clinical Services’ program manager, notes that insurance will be billed for vaccines but that the CDC’s Bridge Access Program provides free vaccines, with individuals just paying an administration fee. That fee is $40 for adults and $19.85 for children for each dose.
“We also have a sliding scale if the administrative fee is too high,” Goldcamp said.
In addition to a flu vaccine, Goldcamp encourages individuals to take additional precautions to keep from getting sick. These include being vigilant with hand washing, staying home if sick and covering coughs in your elbow, “like a vampire.”
How this flu season will shape up remains to be seen. According to state surveillance data, there aren’t many reported cases of flu, but the instances of influenza-like illness have been rising for the past five or so weeks and are a bit higher than recent past flu seasons.
Late October is the sweet spot to get your flu vaccine. It takes two weeks to become fully effective, and flu can last well into April. Getting your vaccine around this time of year helps to ensure that you will be protected when gathering with family members and friends for the holidays, when cold weather makes it more difficult to spread out.
But, as we always say at Monongalia County Health Department, even as we get into winter months, it’s never too late to get your flu shot.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.