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Flu shots could help overwhelmed hospitals

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to get immunized against the seasonal flu by the end of October, especially those at higher risk of complications, including pregnant women, older adults and young children.

The influenza season is right around the corner and Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson said vaccines are here. She is urging people to get vaccinated — particularly this year with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The primary concern among the medical community, she said, is the potential large amounts of sick people.

“We could have so many ill people to overwhelm the health care system,” Thompson said. “There may be longer waits in ERs, people may not be able to get hospitalized because there might not be room for them.”

She said anyone older than 6 months and not allergic to the flu shot should get vaccinated.

“Particularly people with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and people who have had strokes,” Thompson said. “Their immune systems are not as strong.”

It takes two weeks for the influenza vaccine to go into effect, so she hopes people get them sooner rather than later. If someone does get sick with the flu shortly after receiving the vaccine, Thompson said it was because it has not kicked in yet.

Symptoms of influenza include:

• Body aches

• Coughing

• Sneezing

• Fever

• Chills

• Sore throat

• Fatigue

• Stuffy nose

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea.

She said there are not yet any tests to confirm whether or not someone has the flu as it is too early in the season.

If anyone suspects he or she might have the flu, Thompson said the first thing they should do is stay home, call their physician and drink plenty of liquids as it can cause dehydration. Over-the-counter medications can be taken to reduce fevers. If symptoms get worse or if someone is unable to take care of themselves, Thompson said they should call another person for help.

Due to the pandemic, she said the stress levels of people have increased, which has negative effects on immune systems. As a result, residents might be more susceptible to other ailments, such as shingles, which Thompson has seen an increase of. That is another illness which has a vaccine and she said people should get.

——

Contact Lana Bradstream

at 641-753-6611 or

lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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