SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County officials stressed the importance of all community members receiving flu vaccines at a panel held Friday in Sanford.
The discussion featured county Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty, Emergency Manager Alan Harris, Florida Department of Health Officer Donna Walsh, AdventHealth Centra Care Senior Medical Director Dr. Tim Hendrix and True Health Chief Officer Dr. Karenna Senors.
Health officials at the meeting agreed that when it comes to the flu, prevention is better than cure.
“I think this year is going to be a little bit easier to convince people that viruses can be dangerous and that (they) can make you, at minimum, sick for 10 to 14 days. Some people get admitted, and some people even die, and the flu has always done that,” Husty said.
The county, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends flu shots for all residents to prevent illness, especially among the more vulnerable population. The CDC suggests that everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu shot by the end of October, which is when influenza activity increases, according to a Seminole County news release.
“Same thing I preach every year with the flu vaccine: It’s not just about you, but you can prevent bringing the virus back home, the flu virus or the COVID virus, to the fragile members of your family,” Hendrix said.
Flu vaccines are historically about 40-60% effective at preventing sickness, and also effective at preventing serious illness, complications or hospitalizations, Walsh added.
“Is there a risk for the flu season to be as severe as it has in the past? Absolutely. So, we’re preparing for that event... the main thing is to protect yourself and protect your family,” Walsh said.
Husty said that COVID-19 mask and social distancing protocols contributed to a lower number of flu cases last year and urged residents to continue practicing these medicated and mitigated measures in the fight against both the flu and COVID-19 this season.
“We see people that are hesitant to get their flu vaccine, but not to the degree of COVID (vaccines). We encourage people to get both vaccines,” Hendrix said.
Different formulations of the flu vaccine are available, such as the pediatric formulation for patients 6 months to 18 years old, and a higher dose formulation for patients 65 and older.
Following the news conference, all five panel members rolled up their sleeves to receive their flu shot for the season.
“Flu shots are safe and COVID shots are safe. Get vaccinated for both. It’s so much easier than having to go through having the disease,” Husty said.
Flu shots for Seminole County residents will be offered at the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County by appointment Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shots are free for children from 6 months to 18 years old. To schedule an appointment, call 407-665-3700 or visit seminole.floridahealth.gov.
Residents can also schedule an appointment at AdventHealth Centra Care locations online at CentraCare.org.
For more available locations, visit FluFreeFlorida.com.