Arkansas Department of Health state epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha joined Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero at the COVID-19 daily update to encourage Arkansans to get a flu vaccine within the next few months.
According to her, this year will be “especially important” to get a flu vaccine which is “recommended for all people who don’t have a contraindication [and] who are six months of age or older.”
Dillaha cited two reasons for why obtaining a flu vaccine this year is particularly important. The first reason is simply not wanting to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time and the second reason is to keep hospitalizations low.
“Flu vaccination can go a long way to keeping people out of the hospital and we want to decrease the number of hospitalizations in Arkansas as much as possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Arkansas Department of Health will be hosting drive-thru vaccination clinics beginning the week of September 21. The flu vaccine will be available at schools the following week. Furthermore, many pharmacies and health care clinics have flu vaccines.
“Get one whenever it’s available,” said Dillaha.
She also explained how the flu vaccine works in the body.
“What the vaccine does is it basically gives your immune system a running head start to fight the flu. So it introduces your immune system to what the flu virus will look like,” said Dillaha. “The vaccine tells your immune system ‘be on the lookout for a virus that looks like this’ and then when you see the real flu virus, your immune system does not have to go through the steps that it has already gone through to learn to recognize that flu virus and it can go to work immediately in fighting that virus.”