In a normal year, the arrival of flu season would mean we hear about taking extra precautions as influenza starts spreading. But in the not-at-all-normal year of 2020, we’ve taken the most …
In a normal year, the arrival of flu season would mean we hear about taking extra precautions as influenza starts spreading. But in the not-at-all-normal year of 2020, we’ve taken the most extreme public health measures of our lifetimes — closing schools this spring, limiting large gatherings, encouraging the use of face masks, shutting down hospitals and care centers to families and other visitors, taking temperatures at schools, keeping our distance and the list goes on.
So as flu season arrives in 2020, many of us are weary of virus-related precautions. We understand: COVID-19 has made this year especially difficult. But even though you may be tired of reading about COVID-19 and now influenza, we still need to take these viruses seriously and do what we can to prevent their spread in our community.
A key way to combat influenza is to get a flu shot. The Wyoming Department of Health called flu shots “more important than ever this year.” Influenza viruses will be circulating along with COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months.
“Because there are fewer restrictions in Wyoming now than in the spring, we are concerned about the potential harm to our residents and strain on our healthcare system from the combined threat of both influenza and COVID-19,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer.
Even if you’re not considered high risk for either virus, you mostly likely know people who are — loved ones, friends, neighbors, co-workers or classmates. Out of compassion for others, let’s be willing to take steps to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and influenza.
While we hope an effective vaccine for COVID-19 will be available soon, you can get a flu shot now. Since flu viruses change frequently, Harrist said the vaccine is updated every season. Health officials recommend the shot for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Locally, Park County Public Health will be offering a drive-thru flu shot clinic Wednesday at the Park County Fairgrounds. Shots will be offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m., and cost $25 for adults and $20 for children. In addition, shots are available at clinics and pharmacies in the area.
It’s also important to continue taking precautions to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Cases are on the rise in Park County, with 58 confirmed and probable active cases as of Monday, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. The county saw 31 new cases over the course of five days this past week, Dr. Aaron Billin said in a Sunday update.
It’s a trend we don’t want to see in our communities, and we hope the COVID-19 pandemic ends soon.
“The pandemic will be over when the virus mutates and fades away and/or if we develop enough immunity to the virus through widespread infection, a vaccine, or a combination of both,” wrote Dr. Mike Tracy with 307Health in the clinic’s recent newsletter. “There are many possibilities to wade through, and — with the march of time — we are experiencing many social and political challenges.”
While many of those challenges may be outside of our control, we can take steps to keep ourselves healthy and help curb the spread of these viruses. That starts with leading a healthy lifestyle — eating well, drinking enough water, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep. Of course, the other measures you hear about often — washing your hands, staying home when sick, keeping social distance and wearing a face covering — also remain important.
We know it’s advice you’ve heard countless times in 2020, but in order to fight familiar foes and new ones this cold/flu season, we all need to do our part.