Public health officials are concerned that a severe flu season, coupled with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, could result in what is known as a “twindemic,” crippling hospitals that are already stretched thin battling the novel coronavirus.
The flu can be combated much in the same way as Covid-19: washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a face covering and staying home. But residents have one more important tool to fight the flu that is not yet available for Covid-19: a vaccine.
Santa Clara County Public Health will hold a free flu shot drive-thru event at Valley Health Center Gilroy, 7475 Camino Arroyo, on Oct. 24 from 9am to 4pm.
Shots are available for everyone ages 12 and older. No appointments are necessary, and all are welcome regardless of immigration status or if they have health insurance. A variety of language services will be on site.
Britt Ehrhardt, public health communications officer for the county, said staff will take all Covid-19 safety precautions during the event, such as wearing personal protective equipment. Participants can remain in their vehicles as they receive a shot.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. While they share many of the same early symptoms, flu is not Covid-19, which is caused by a different virus. In addition, flu is not the same as the common cold, which is caused by different viruses.
While the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, it is especially important for pregnant women, children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes, according to health officials. People who live in the same household with someone at high risk can help protect that person from severe flu by getting a flu shot.
It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective.
Ehrhardt said residents are recommended to receive a flu shot every year, as strains of the virus differ on a yearly basis.
“This year, getting an annual flu shot is more important than ever with Covid-19 circulating in our community,” she said.The county also offers free flu shots Saturdays at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. For information, visit sccphd.org/flu.