Understanding the flu in a COVID world
Every flu season is slightly different, but it typically occurs from late fall to early spring. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for almost everyone 6 months and older.
“Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that causes fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and fatigue,” said Greg Miller, M.D., a family medicine physician at Lake Regional Clinic - Lebanon. “Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, but an annual flu vaccine is a great prevention tool. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza, so you should try to get the shot before the flu season starts.”
Symptoms of the flu typically appear one to four days after infection and can come on abruptly. The flu is usually worse than the common cold with more intense symptoms; however, COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people than the flu.
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated for seasonal influenza and COVID-19. The flu shot can be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Because the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help people recover from the flu,” Dr. Miller said. “The right treatment for the flu is rest and drinking lots of fluids. Over-the-counter medications may provide relief for symptoms such as a sore throat or congestion. Antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate), usually are needed only if the patient is at high risk for serious flu-related complications.”
Although people should take safety precautions to prevent the spread of flu, such as covering coughs and washing hands, the best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated. Lake Regional makes vaccination easy with several opportunities to get a flu shot.
At Lake Regional Primary Care Clinics
All seven Lake Regional primary care clinics — Camdenton, Eldon, Iberia, Lake Ozark, Laurie, Lebanon and Osage Beach — provide flu shots for established patients during regular office hours. Scheduled appointments are preferred.
“Children 6 months to 8 years old who have not had a flu shot before need two doses given at least four weeks apart,” Dr. Miller said. “They should get an early start so they can get the second dose by the end of October.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is also available for anyone 12 and up at all Lake Regional primary care clinics.
At Lake Regional Pharmacy
Lake Regional Pharmacy offers flu shots at each of its five locations: Camdenton, Eldon, Lake Ozark, Laurie and Osage Beach. The quadrivalent vaccine is $26; the high-dose vaccine (recommended only for seniors 65 years and older) is $65. Medicare and most insurance plans cover the cost. Children must be at least 7 years old to receive a pharmacy flu shot.
At Lake Regional Occupational Medicine
Lake Regional Occupational Medicine offers flu vaccination services for area employers. Businesses can send employees to either the Osage Beach, Eldon or Lebanon clinic location. Flexible payment options are available, including invoice billing and clinic vouchers. For more information, contact Occupational Medicine clinic manager Rachel Bailey at 573-348-8045 or 417-991-3103.
Learn more about influenza, including treatment tips, at lakeregional.com/flu.
Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to residents and visitors throughout the mid-Missouri region. The hospital is a Level II Stroke Center, Level II STEMI (heart attack) Center and Level III Trauma Center. Lake Regional also provides a wide range of specialty care, including cancer care, heart care and orthopedics. Plus, Lake Regional operates primary care clinics, Express Care clinics, rehab therapy clinics, programs for home health and hospice, and retail pharmacies. To learn more, visit lakeregional.com.