Flu Shot

Michelle Perret, pharmacy manager at the Giant grocery store on New Design Road, administers a flu shot Thursday afternoon to Corrina Portner, one of her pharmacy technicians due to receive the flu vaccine.

At the Giant supermarket pharmacy on New Design road, residents have steadily trickled in to get their flu shots.

In the span of a month, the pharmacy has already given out roughly half the number of shots (425) it would for an entire flu season, according to Giant pharmacy manager Michelle Perret.

"It's because of COVID," Perrett said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. "People want to do whatever they can to protect themselves."

As flu season officially kicked off Thursday with the coronavirus pandemic still a threat, the Frederick County Health Department urged county residents to get their flu shots.

It's possible for people to be infected with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time and that could lead to serious complications, according to Stacey Herbst, a community health nurse in the county health department's communicable disease program.

"It's important to take steps to reduce your risk," she said. "Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and keep physical distance."

While the coronavirus has hospitalized hundreds of county residents in a matter of months, the flu hospitalized 61 in the county between Oct. 5 2019 and Jan. 25, according to data obtained by the News-Post from the Maryland Department of Health.

"There is heightened awareness this season about the possibility of a 'twindemic,' where the flu and COVID-19 are circulating in our community at the same time," Herbst said. "This places an additional burden on our healthcare system as more people require medical treatment for one or both conditions."

According to the county health department's online vaccine finder, there are close to 100 places to get a flu shot within a 25-mile radius of Frederick. Some require appointments, while others do not.

The Frederick County Health Department will be offering free flu shots to children between the ages of six months and 18 years, even if they don't have health insurance, have health insurance that does not cover the cost of the immunizations or can't get vaccinated by their health-care provider.

Appointments are required to get a flu shot from the health department. They are available on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Masks are required for anyone over the age of five.

The Giant pharmacy on New Design offers curbside flu shots on Mondays and Fridays by appointment only. Walk-up customers are welcome during the pharmacy's normal hours, and no appointments are necessary.

According to the county health department, the people most susceptible to getting the flu are children younger than five, people 65-and-older, pregnant women, people with underlying health issues, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease and people on medications that weaken the immune system, such as chemotherapy.

Symptoms usually start suddenly and include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue, the health department said.

"Infection with the influenza virus places a great burden on the body’s resources, and sometimes leads to secondary complications which can cause significant illness and death," Herbst said. "The influenza virus mutates frequently. So, new versions can develop that most people don’t have immunity to. This is why we recommend a flu vaccination each year."

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek

(1) comment

DickD

I plan on getting my flu shot.

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