Time to get those flu shots

Blessing Registered Nurse Darcy Mannigel prepares a flu vaccine during a Blessing Health System drive-thru flu clinic at its 4800 Maine facility on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 13, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY — Psst! Hey, remember flu season?

Well, it's almost here.

With so much health-related talk surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it's easy to overlook the flu.

Generally speaking and allowing for regional differences, cases of the flu begin to increase around October, peak in December through February, and can last until May.

So ... it's time to be getting that flu shot, for more reasons than one.

"While the flu vaccination will not eliminate a person's risk for developing the illness, its greatest benefits lie in the reduction of the severity of flu symptoms and reduction in the length of time it takes for the disease to run its course," said Dr. Andrew Dunn of Blessing Physician Services.

Obviously, flu shots can be doubly important this year.

"With COVID-19 active in the region, any action that can be taken to preserve medical resources at this time, such as receiving the flu vaccination, helps the community," Dunn said.

The Blessing Health System, which hosted a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic Saturday at the Blessing Health Center, will be providing two more drive-through clinics in the coming week:

3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Blessing Health Center, 4800 Maine, north entrance. No appointment is needed.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, Blessing Health Center, 927 Broadway, east entrance. No appointment is needed.

Those attending a flu clinic are asked to wear a mask. The flu shots will be available to anyone ages 6 months and older. The $35 cost is payable by cash or check, or Medicare and other insurance can be billed for those participants who bring their identification and insurance cards.

Flu vaccine is also available at the Adams County Health Department. Immunizations are available from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The afternoon times are by appointment only.

The Health Department is also offering a drive-thru flu clinic at John Wood Community College for adults and children in the community. This drive-thru is scheduled 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Community members wishing to be vaccinated should use the Harrison Street entrance.

The cost for the flu vaccines are:

Flu vaccine: $30

High dose flu vaccine: $55

Most insurances offer a $0 co-pay.

The Adams County Health Department will be able to bill most insurance, plus Illinois Medicaid and Medicare. Those receiving vaccines are asked to bring their insurance card.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are many different flu viruses each season, and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on the vaccine) that research suggests will be most common in a particular year.

The CDC says influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.

COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), while the flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many of the same characteristics.