Flu shot

A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, D.C Jan. 31, 2020. (Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

HOPEWELL — With COVID-19 cases rising in at least 25 states as of Thursday, including New York, public health officials are urging people to get their normal flu vaccine as soon as possible, preferably before Halloween.

“The flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to provide maximum immunity,” said Mary Beer, Ontario County’s public health director. “Receiving an influenza vaccine this flu season will help reduce the strain on the healthcare system responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a campaign dubbed “Flu Before Boo!,” Beer and other public health officials are encouraging everyone 6 months and older to get the annual flu vaccine soon. The 2020-21 vaccine includes protection from two types of influenza A and one or two types of flu B, depending on the vaccine.

People are urged to get the vaccine from their healthcare provider or local pharmacy.

Symptoms of the flu usually occur suddenly and may include headaches, fever, chills, body and muscle aches, severe fatigue, congestion and cough. Antiviral medication may shorten the length of illness and severity of symptoms, and people with symptoms compatible with the flu should contact their doctor when symptoms begin.

Beer and other public health officials encourage people to continue wearing masks in public to avoid getting the flu and COVID-19, wash their hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand gels. They should also avoid contact with sick people, cover their coughs and sneezes, and stay home when sick.

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