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Following his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Westchester County Executive George Latimer will roll up his sleeve and get a flu shot at the Westchester County Department of Health in White Plains. Standing with Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, MD, the two will encourage all Westchester County residents to get a flu vaccine this year, because it is one more effort we all can take to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latimer said: “We all know that 2020 has proven to be a challenging year for our health and safety. We have been faced with an unprecedented pandemic – one that has made many of our friends and neighbors sick in a way unlike anything we’ve seen before. Don’t put off your flu shot any longer, make an appointment to get vaccinated today.”

Flu shots are available from many area pharmacists and medical offices. Residents should check with their health care provider or a local pharmacy chain to find a location, or you can use the Vaccine Finder to find a pharmacy near you that provides flu vaccine.

The vaccine will be especially critical to reduce flu this season because it will help to prevent diagnostic confusion between the flu and COVID-19. The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are very similar, and without a vaccination, it will be more difficult for doctors to determine how to treat your symptoms. A flu shot will also prevent people from becoming infected by the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which can be dangerous. 

Amler said: “With all that we continue to face in battling the spread of COVID-19, getting vaccinated is one thing we can do to help keep each other safe this flu season. Getting your flu shot will ultimately lessen the strain on our healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will help keep people out of local hospitals. When healthier people get an annual flu shot, they help protect the people around them, including infants too young to be vaccinated, seniors and people with chronic health conditions, who are more vulnerable to flu complications.”

Flu activity is usually highest between December and February, but can last into May. One flu vaccine now provides protection all season long and can prevent illness or reduce the severity of flu symptoms. The vaccine becomes fully effective after about two weeks.

Amler said that anyone who does get a respiratory infection should cough or sneeze into their elbow, wash their hands frequently with soap and water, stay home until 24 hours after their fever subsides to avoid spreading germs, clean surfaces they touch frequently, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones, and get plenty of rest.