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Health officials worried about the comorbidity of COVID and the flu as fall transitions into winter

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Oregon Health Authority is urging all Oregonians 6 months and older to get vaccinated against the flu this year.

The Oregon Health Authority is urging all Oregonians 6 months and older to get vaccinated against the flu this year. The OHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are preparing for COVID-19 and seasonal flu to spread at the same time.

"Flu vaccines are safe and effective, and with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is more important than ever to get a flu shot to keep the people around you healthy," Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the OHA, said.

The potential impact of both viruses circulating at the same time remains unclear, but it could burden the state's health care system and result in many illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths, Cieslak said. Getting a flu vaccine is something people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones and help reduce the spread of flu this fall and winter.

According to the OHA, the flu vaccine is proven to help protect pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions while reducing the burden of flu on communities. It is especially important this year to protect those at higher risk for flu complications. Many of whom are also at high risk for COVID-19 illness or serious health problems.

The OHA is promoting a "Don't Wait to Vaccinate" campaign with social media cards and other messaging applications in multiple languages. The flu vaccine may take up to two weeks to become effective, so getting it earlier in the season is ideal.

The vaccine is available at health care providers, local health departments and many pharmacies. The vaccine is free or low cost with most health insurance plans. To find a flu vaccine clinic, visit www.flu.oregon.gov.


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