In year of pandemic, don’t miss your flu shot

In year of pandemic, don’t miss your flu shot


By Suzanne Dean




MANTI—A drive-through flu vaccination shootout is scheduled at three locations in Sanpete County this fall.

It’s more important than ever to get your flu shot this year to avoid the possibility of getting a bad strain of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, said Kris Winkel, a public health nurse for the Central Utah Public Health Department (CUPHD) and coordinator of the shootout.

The shootout is significant for another reason, Winkel told the Manti City Council Wednesday, Aug. 19. “It’s a practice for something serious.”

One scenario could be release of a COVID-19 vaccine. Several drug companies are conducting Phase III trials, the last step before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers release of a vaccine to the general public.

“We’ve heard we’re getting some COVID-19 vaccine,” although no one knows when the vaccine would arrive, Winkel told the Messenger. “If we do, we’ll have another shootout.”

“A pandemic is only one scenario,” Winkel said. Public health workers always think about worst-case scenarios, she said. An example might be the aftermath of a bioterrorism attack where an antidote had to be administered to the whole population.

The shootout for North Sanpete residents will be Sept. 24 (Thursday) from 2-6 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department, 115 W. Main.

The flu shootout for residents of Manti, Ephraim and Sterling will be Oct. 6 (Tuesday) from 4-7 p.m. at the Manti Fire Department, 52 S. 100 East.

Gunnison Valley residents can drive through for flu shots Oct. 7 (Wednesday) from 2-6 p.m. at the Gunnison Valley Fire Department, 40 E. 200 North in Gunnison.

Public health nurses will oversee the shootouts, but Snow College nursing students and EMTs will give many of the shots.

“We want to make sure all of the organizations are working together,” Winkel said.

The shootout team will be counting how many cars can get through lines in given amounts of time, Winkel said. So if you want to support the public health drill, but don’t want or need the shot, you can still drive through.

Last year, about 550 Sanpete County residents were vaccinated during shootouts in Mt. Pleasant and Manti. A spokeswoman said CUPHD hopes to exceed that this year.          The shootout team also expects to visit Snow College and public schools to give shots to faculty and staff and care centers to vaccinate residents.

There are actually hundreds of strains of flu, Winkel said. The flu shot is formulated to protect people against the strains most likely to cause deaths, such as the strains known as Influenza A, Influenza B and H1N1.

About 1 percent of people who get the flu die from it. By comparison, COVID-19 kills about 3 percent.

September and early October are the best times to get a flu shot, Winkel said. If you wait until after October, flu season may be underway and you may get the flu before you get your shot.

On its website, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says, “While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID 19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.”