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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

More local residents getting flu shots


Last updated 9/27/2020 at 4:58am | View PDF

With the covid-19 virus still in the forefront of residents’ minds, flu season is arriving, threatening to make this season one of the worst in recent memory.

Kern County Public Health Department officials are urging residents to get their flu shots now and not wait until the customary start of flu season, which is usually in late October.

In fact, the County Health Department, which holds low-cost vaccination clinics annually, will not be receiving its vaccine supply until October.

However, the vaccine is available at various places throughout Kern County, helping residents protect against the virus, which is responsible for several deaths in the county every year.

Residents may get confused about whether they have the flu or the coronavirus, as the symptoms are similar, which makes it challenging for local health practitioners.

Flu vaccines are recommended for anyone over the age of 6 months. It is especially recommended for those in high risk groups. This include adults over 65 years old, people with chronic health issues, such as respiratory illnesses, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and children under the age of 2 years old.

Locally, according to several medical facilities in Shafter, there has been a drastic increase in the number of people getting the flu vaccine.

Kinh Tu, a pharmacist at the Rite Aid store in Shafter, said that there is an increase in vaccines, and vaccination has started a lot earlier than in past years.

“We usually have to promote the vaccine, with the majority of the people coming in starting in mid to late October,” Tu said. “This year, we received our vaccines early and people are taking advantage of this, choosing to get themselves vaccinated earlier.”

One factor to consider, said Tu, is the similarity of the viruses, when it comes to the influenza virus and the covid-19 virus. “They are both respiratory in nature, have a lot of the same symptoms, and can attack the same high risk groups.”

Tu said being in a high risk group makes it even more important to get a flu shot.

“When you look at the majority of the deaths in Kern County, the cause of death is complications from the coronavirus, not the virus itself,” Tu said. “Those infected with the coronavirus are opened up to getting infected by the flu, pneumonia, or other respiratory illnesses that can be fatal.”

For those residents who are hesitant about going to get the flu vaccine in fear of being exposed to the covid-19 virus, health workers said that residents can be assured that patients showing symptoms of the coronavirus are separated from the other patients. Health officials also said the flu vaccine will give an extra boost to residents’ immune systems and overall health.


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