With flu season arriving, time to get those shots

Germantown Pharmacy pharmacist, Katie Perry holds up two different flu shot that are available. The 2021–22 influenza season is expected to coincide with continued circulation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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Germantown Pharmacy pharmacist, Katie Perry holds up two different flu shot that are available. The 2021–22 influenza season is expected to coincide with continued circulation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Health officials in Butler County recommend getting flu vaccinations soon as more return to everyday activities.

Amid all the talk about vaccinations to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time for another needle — the annual flu shot — health officials and pharmacists are saying.

So far, Butler County has had no flu hospitalizations, but with flu season typically arriving in October, it’s time to roll up the sleeves, said Erin Smiley, spokeswoman for the Butler County General Health District.

“It’s not a reportable disease, so we don’t know as tests are positive,” she said. “We only get reports of hospitalizations.”

During the 2018-2019 flu season, the first hospitalization in the county was in late September. In 2019-2020, the first was in late August, according to county health records. Last flu season was extremely low for flu hospitalizations in the county, with only three all season, mirroring a nationwide trend.

Pharmacists in Hamilton and Middletown, who said they were not allowed to comment because of corporate policies, but confirmed they were administering flu vaccines in their stores.

It’s a good idea to get vaccinations sooner than later because they typically take about two weeks, depending on a particular year’s inoculations, to take effect, Smiley said.

Walgreens in a news release noted people can receive COVID-19 shots and flu vaccinations in the same visit.

“Measures like social distancing, mask-wearing, and increased flu vaccinations contributed to very few flu cases last season. However, as communities return to everyday activities amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, it is critical that people remain diligent about getting their flu vaccine,” said Walgreens’ Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Ban.

The country again is seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths because of the disease’s delta variant.

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“As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Walgreens is preparing for the co-circulation of both flu and COVID-19 and eligible patients will be able to receive a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine in a single visit,” the company said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu shots for everyone six months or older unless they have specific health conditions. Ideally, shots should be received by the end of October, but people should receive them as long as the flu is circulating and shots are available, the CDC adds.

Some children from 6 months through age 8 require two flu shots. Those children should get their first dose as soon as shots become available, with the second dose about four weeks later. Children who need only one dose can be vaccinated as soon as the shots become available, the CDC says.