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Getting your flu shot is more important than ever this year

If you contract one respiratory illness without protection, the odds of contracting another go up considerably.

SAN ANTONIO — If you aren't sick right now you probably know somebody who is. 

COVID, the flu, and other bugs are floating around. Getting your flu shot is extremely important this year. 

We all know with fall and winter come respiratory illnesses like the common cold, RSV, the flu, and now COVID. Having any one of those increases your chance of coming down with another at the same time. 

Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist with University Health and Professor of Infectious Diseases with UT Health San Antonio said, "You can get co-infections, which is unfair but can happen so people can get another risk for a viral infection while they're battling one or a bacterial infection on top of a risk to a virus infection." 

Flu and COVID-19 spread in similar ways. Droplets and virus particles from a sick person can transmit the either virus to others nearby. Even smaller particles can linger in the air, allowing people to inhale them and become infected. Even surfaces can carry the germs and transfer them to others if they touch them. People infected with either COVID-19 or the flu may not know they have it for several days, and can unknowingly spread the disease to others without showing symptoms. 

Dr. Bowling added, "Just because you feel okay, you're not feeling that bad, even if you know that you're a little bit sick, it doesn't mean that you're not necessarily shedding a lot of virus, meaning that you could still transmit to other people even if your symptoms aren't as severe as somebody else's." 

With a cold you typically get a cough, stuffy or runny nose, and a sore throat. If you have those and fever or a headache, it could be RSV. Add body aches and fatigue and that could be the flu. But with all of those AND loss of taste or smell and diarrhea, you may have COVID and need to get tested. 

Dr. Bowling added, "By testing yourself and knowing if you have COVID or not, you can really help determine do you put yourself in isolation so you're not transmitting it to other people that are more vulnerable at higher risk." He said you can get your flu shot and the COVID booster at the same time.

Bexar County and University Health are partnering to offer free drive-through flu shot events. For a list of locations and times click here.

Metro Health also issued the following statement:

"As we approach fall and winter seasons and holiday festivities begin, Metro Health also encourages the community to get their flu vaccine. Anyone six months and older is eligible to receive their vaccine yearly. Pregnant women and individuals with underlying health conditions are encouraged to seek protection as soon as possible.

"For people with health insurance, most plans will cover the new COVID-19 and flu vaccines at no cost to the individual. For those who don’t have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost, they can get their vaccines from Metro Health or pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program (including CVS and Walgreens). Metro Health continues to work with community agencies to host pop-up vaccine clinics on a weekly basis and offer the most updated vaccines. No appointments are needed. A list of available clinics can be found on our website. Metro Health’s immunization clinic also offers vaccines by appointment. The community can call 210-207-8894 to set an appointment. Metro Health will offer the most updated COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they become available to the department.  

"As a reminder to the community, our COVID-19 surveillance dashboard is updated every Tuesday by 4:30p.m. and is available at covid19.sanantonio.gov."

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