Editor’s Note: The Iredell County Health Department provides the following guidance for the upcoming flu season.

Special to Iredell Free News

So far, this year has been filled with fear and uncertainty. We have worked together to practice the most effective ways to combat COVID-19 and protect ourselves and others by wearing a mask, washing our hands often and using various methods to limit the spread of germs. We have adapted to our new way of living, staying socially distanced at six feet apart.

All of these safer health practices will be especially useful during the colder months, when other respiratory viruses will be spreading throughout our community. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.

With the flu season quickly approaching, we are fortunate to once again have an extra defense that will help guard against the flu virus: the flu shot.

The flu shot is the best way to prevent flu each year and is especially important this year, since both viruses will likely be spreading. It is important to note, getting a flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19; however, flu vaccination will reduce your risk for getting the flu and serious complications from the flu.

According to The Centers Disease Control and Prevention, it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time but how often this may occur is unknown at this time. What we do know is that if more individuals receive the flu shot this year, there will be less people sick from the flu. This is extremely important, as we want to reduce the number of individuals who get the flu and then have to visit a physician, emergency department, and/or end up hospitalized.

Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
• fever or feeling feverish/chills
• cough
• sore throat
• runny or stuffy nose
• muscle or body aches
• headaches
• fatigue (tiredness)
• vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).

You can safely get a flu vaccine at multiple locations, including your doctor’s office, health departments, and pharmacies. Visit vaccinefinder.org to find out where flu vaccines are available near you. The Iredell County Health Department is now offering walk-in flu shots at the Statesville location and by appointment at the Mooresville location. Appointments are accepted at the Statesville location, but not required. We accept Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Medicaid, North Carolina Health Choice, and Medicare Part B. Please contact us at 704-878-5300 for information regarding the flu or insurance coverage or visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu.