County health departments in south central Oklahoma, in coordination with the Chickasaw Nation, are developing plans to deliver flu vaccinations to all surrounding communities in a region that includes Pauls Valley.
In fact, those flu vaccines look to be coming to schools and the public by way of drive-thru events.
Here in Pauls Valley the first one of those drive-thru events is now scheduled for all day, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30 at the Garvin County Health Department located at 1809 South Chickasaw.
Flu season will begin soon and everyone is highly encouraged to get vaccinated. Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than previous years to take early preventive measures to avoid the influenza virus, officials said.
“We are grateful to the Chickasaw Nation for continuing to provide influenza vaccines to the local county health departments in a joint effort to protect the health of all citizens within the counties of the Chickasaw Nation,” said Mendy Spohn, regional administrative director for nine local health departments in the region that includes Garvin County.
This is the fifth year the two organizations have partnered to prevent the spread of influenza in their region.
Since influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory viruses that could turn severe or even lead to death, communities need to prepare to get a flu vaccination as early as possible.
Ensuring that people get these vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting people and communities from a preventable illness, reducing the burden on the healthcare system, Spohn said.
According to CDC data from the past five years, more than 500,000 people are hospitalized from the flu each year in the US. This figure includes an average of 21,000 children younger than five years of age.
This year, health departments are concerned about the impact on individuals who contract both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time. Such co-morbidities may complicate providers’ abilities to detect, diagnose and treat co-infections.
In addition, the potential of a severe flu season during the coronavirus pandemic may further strain resources that are already heavily burdened from ongoing COVID-19 response.
Flu vaccines are proven to be effective in reducing the risk of contracting influenza or at minimum lessening the time an individual is sick with the virus
While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe illness.
“This year it is vital that people receive their vaccination before flu viruses begin spreading in their community, since it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection against flu,” Spohn said.
Anyone over the age of six months should receive the flu vaccine. Senior citizens, young children, pregnant women and individuals with chronic health conditions are more susceptible to serious health complications if they contract the virus.