Local health officials are urging residents to help avoid whatâ€™s being referred to as a â€śtwin-demic.â€ť
Itâ€™s as simple as driving through one of several upcoming flu clinics to get vaccinated for the seasonal respiratory virus we know all too well. Influenza, or â€śthe fluâ€ť for short, is a highly-contagious, viral respiratory infection that has kills thousands of people across the U.S. annually.
For the first time ever, the Central Connecticut Health District will be offering Drive-thru Flu Clinics in its four member towns this October.
â€śI think weâ€™re really trying to protect our healthcare system from suffering through a twin-demic,â€ť CCHD Health Director Charles Brown told the Herald-Press, defining the newly-coined word as â€śa flood of flu and a flood of covid-19 cases at the same time.â€ť
â€śBeing able to take this protective measure would help save lives and take the strain off our healthcare system,â€ť Brown pointed out.
The CCHD traditionally holds walk-in flu clinics every October. Staff opted for the drive-through clinics this year to further limit human interaction to contain the spread of covid-19.
The first will take place Tuesday, Oct. 6 from 2-6 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Berlin Senior Center, 33 Colonial Dr. Berlin.
Then on Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 2-6 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. volunteers will be at Wethersfield Community Center, 30 Greenfield St., Wethersfield to vaccinate folks there.
The following week, Tuesday, October 20 from 2-6 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Drive-Thru Flu Clinics are set to take place on Alumni Field, 50 Alumni Rd, Newington.
Finally, the clinic will come to Elm Ridge Park, 376 Elm St., Rocky Hill, on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 2-6 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Residents from any of the four towns can go to any of the clinics.
Those who participate are being asked to drive up to the designated location and remain within their vehicles to be screened and vaccinated. Pediatric vaccination stations will also be available for children ages four to 18, along with their family members. An insurance card must be presented during the clinic in order to receive the vaccination free of cost. For the uninsured, a $25 fee will be charged. However, no one will be turned away.
It is possible to get the flu and covid simultaneously, according to health officials.
â€śThus, it is even more important to get a flu vaccination since preventing or minimizing flu may help to diagnose Covid-19 infection more easily,â€ť CCHD Community Health Coordinator Luis Pantoja said. â€śOnce a Covid-19 vaccine is available, these same drive-thru clinics will most likely be run again for vaccination against Covid-19.â€ť
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone aged six months and older be vaccinated each fall. Those susceptible to prolonged infection and complications are the same groups most vulnerable to severe illness from covid-19: those with weakened immune systems and chronic health conditions like heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
The 2020-2021 influenza vaccine provides coverage for four strains of the flu.
As kids headed back to school this September, new coronavirus cases are popping up. That, combined with the reopening of different business sectors, could lead to a spike, according to Brown.
â€śIâ€™m concerned in general as we go through more personal interactions,â€ť he said. â€śI think people really adhering to social-distancing, mask use and washing their hands can help to mitigate some of that risk, but it doesnâ€™t eliminate it.â€ť
A covid-19 vaccine is expected to be available to the public by this December, according to the CDC.
Brownâ€™s guess is that it will be more like springtime. Healthcare workers and vulnerable people will be the first to get their hands on the stuff.
â€śFirst theyâ€™re going to protect critical infrastructure and people most at risk, then others,â€ť he said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.