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Brown County Public Health encourages flu vaccine to stay healthy during pandemic

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County Public Health is urging residents to get the flu vaccine as the best way to avoid contracting influenza, especially since flu symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19.

“Local healthcare systems capacity and staffing are fragile currently and as a community people owe it to our healthcare providers to be proactive in our own health prevention measures. Flu vaccination is the best measure in protecting ourselves and our community against the virus that causes influenza,” said Karen Moritz, Public Health Director.

The holidays are here, and while that means more opportunities for spreading cheer, there is also more opportunity for spreading flu and other respiratory viruses as people resume travel and gather with family and friends. National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec 5-11) is an important reminder to check off one thing no one should go through the holiday season without: a flu vaccine.

The seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The signs and symptoms of the seasonal flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Many of COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu. People who contract the flu will experience a range of symptoms from mild to severe, just as has been seen with COVID-19.

Flu and COVID-19 are different diseases caused by different viruses. Flu vaccine protects against the four flu viruses that are anticipated to be the main circulating viruses during the flu season, and COVID-19 vaccine protects against the virus that causes COVID-19. One vaccine is not a substitute or replacement for the other. Both are recommended and available at Brown County Public Health at no charge.

For more information about the differences between COVID-19 and the flu, click on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

Additional information about the seriousness of influenza and the benefits of flu vaccination can be found on CDC’s website; https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm

“We know that getting your flu vaccination/flu shot can significantly increase your chances of avoiding the flu and reducing its symptoms,” said Moritz. “Everyone 6 months of age and older should get flu vaccine every year. Getting a flu vaccine helps protect you from getting the flu and prevents you from passing it to people who could get very sick.”

Vaccination is especially important for children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes and other long-term conditions who are at high risk from flu complications.

Officials remind the public, in addition to getting the seasonal flu vaccine, there are other steps everyone can take to prevent contracting and spreading the flu. They include:

• If you aren’t feeling well, stay home.

• If your children are ill, keep them at home.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs can spread this way.

• Cover your cough.

• Wash your hands with warm water and soap, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Brown County Public Health is hosting a FREE drive-thru flu clinic on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to noon. Appointments are required and can be made by registering at https://PublicHealthImmunizations.as.me/DriveThruFlu or by calling 507-233-6820.

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