CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Hoping to convince more people to get the flu vaccine ahead of the winter flu season, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is offering free shots Sept. 14.
“Getting a flu shot is important every year because it helps protect us from the flu,” says Dr. Sherri Young, the department’s health officer and executive director. “It’s especially important that people get a flu vaccine this year because it will help us reduce the strain on hospitals responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone aged six months and older get a flu shot each year. The CDC estimates that there were 34,200 deaths during the 2018-19 flu season. The total number of deaths each year is unclear because there is no mandatory reporting requirement for adult flu deaths.
The concern this year, according to the CDC, is that COVID-19 and influenza share common symptoms. Both are contagious respiratory illnesses even though they’re caused by different viruses. Dr. Lisa Lockerd Margakis, a senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins medical center, says both can cause fever, cough, body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea (especially in children). Both can also result in pneumonia.
“The last thing we need this fall and winter is a flu pandemic on top of a coronavirus pandemic,” state Young at a Sept. 11 news conference announcing the free shots.
Flu shots will be available at the next COVID-19 drive up testing event scheduled for Monday, Sept. 14 at the Bible Center Church from 1 p.m. -6 p.m. The church is located at 100 Bible Center Dr. in Charleston.
People can also make appointments to get free shots at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department by calling (304) 348-8080.