Healthy Living: Doctors say it's time to get your flu shot

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"Getting a shot" seems to be a phrase we've heard daily the past several months, but doctors are now asking people to roll up their sleeves for a reason other than COVID-19.

October marks the beginning of flu season, and doctors have a simple message for you and your family:  it’s time to get your flu shot.

This year the concern about the flu is higher. With pandemic restrictions easing, we are seeing more people gathering, and heading back to work.

As a result, many areas are seeing a rise in covid infection rates, and now with the flu taking hold, it's a major health concern.

"Also, to our healthcare system which is already stretched to the maximum in terms of hospital beds, availability of beds, availability of staff," said Dr. Drew Oliviera. senior executive medical director with Regence BlueShield. "So the prevention of the flu, as well as COVID, will help us reduce the strain on our healthcare system."

How do you know if it's the flu, or if it's COVID? Both bring high fever, cough, and body aches. Although the fatigue will be more severe with COVID. A loss of taste and smell is also an indication that it's COVID. 

If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor. You can get tested and vaccinated for both. 

Kids are the most susceptible to the flu, especially under the age of five. A COVID vaccine for kids that young has not been approved just yet, so Dr. Oliviera says getting the flu shot, especially this year, is crucial. 

"The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months should get the shot," said. Dr. Oliviera. "It should be done annually, it should be done around now because it protects you for about five months and that should last you through the flu season."

While the flu shot won't give you immunity from the flu, it can definitely lessen the severity of the symptoms.

And if you're wondering, health officials say it is safe to get the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine at the same time.

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