Each year the flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. While it is unclear exactly what will happen this fall and winter, when there will likely be COVID-19 and flu at the same time, this could place a tremendous burden on our health care systems. That’s why the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is urging everyone do their part to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu and COVID-19. Getting a flu shot, continuing to follow social distancing measures and wearing a mask will help in mitigating the spread of both viruses.
“The influenza vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, but it does have important benefits,” explained Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Getting a flu shot can lower your risk of getting sick, being hospitalized or dying from flu. If you’ve never had a flu shot, this is certainly the year to get one especially with COVID-19 being another potentially deadly respiratory illness.”
Getting a flu shot is also an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. The following is a list of benefits according to the Centers for Diseases and Prevention (CDC).
“Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu this fall and winter,” said Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer. “The more people vaccinated, the more people protected. Getting a flu vaccine is something everyone can do to reduce the impact of flu. It not only will protect yourself and your community, but it will protect the medical providers on the frontlines who will continue to deal with COVID-19 and flu patients.”
The flu vaccine will be extremely important this season since hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices are likely to be busy caring for COVID-19 patients.
Getting a flu vaccine will:
When is the best time to get a flu shot?
Regenye added that the OCHD will soon be releasing a full schedule of flu clinics that will be held all over the county including the Toms River location on Sunset Avenue. Individuals who are homebound for medical reasons can call us at 732-341-9700 ext. 7411 for the potential opportunity for a nurse to provide a flu shot at your residence. For more information on the 2020-21 flu clinic schedule please visit www.ochd.org.
Flu and other vaccine requirements for school students, including vaccine recommendations for adults, can be found at the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/.
The OCHD is also providing a general COVID-19 Information Call Hot Line for residents and clinicians to answer questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.
The NJDOH (NJPIES) hotline is available for questions around the clock at 1-800-222-1222 or by dialing 2-1-1. Other related sources; for medical COVID-19 questions call 1-800-962-1253 or Text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive alerts.