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I’m sure many of you who are reading this are doing everything you can to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19.

But are you doing what you can to avoid the twin-demic?

If “twin-demic” is a phrase that’s new to you, you’re not alone. Only in the past couple of months have I heard health experts and medical professionals use it to describe a looming concern on our collective horizon: the potential collision of two viruses – COVID-19 and the seasonal flu – that cause some of the same symptoms.

As you probably know, flu season typically runs from October through April, and every year, the flu sickens millions of people and kills tens of thousands more. That’s the bad news. The good news is the impact of the flu can be markedly reduced by getting a flu vaccine.

Let’s be clear: The flu vaccine is safe and effective. Getting it can cut the risk of catching the flu by up to 60%, and for people who do get sick, it can diminish the symptoms and shorten the illness. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone older than 6 months of age get the flu vaccine by the end of October.

If you are a person who normally doesn’t think about getting a flu shot, this is the year to make it a priority. Jill Johnson, communicable disease supervisor for Deschutes County Health Services, explained why in The Bulletin recently:

“It’s especially important this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “The seasonal flu vaccine can reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses. The danger is even in a mild flu year, there could be hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, coupled with COVID-19, that could overwhelm the hospital systems.”

In other words, by getting the flu vaccine, you’ll protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, and you’ll be helping our team at St. Charles by not inundating our hospital beds with flu patients.

The threat of COVID-19 is still very real in our community, and over the next few months, it is absolutely critical that we all work together to try to minimize its impact and the impact of the flu on Central Oregon. You can do your part by washing your hands effectively and regularly, practicing appropriate physical distancing, wearing a mask over your mouth and nose and getting your flu shot.

And get it soon, because health officials say it takes two to four weeks to become fully effective.

One last time: Get your flu shot. It may just be the simplest way you can help us avoid a twin-demic.

Thank you for doing your part to keep this community healthy.

Sincerely,
Joe

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