As summer ends and the leaves start to change colors, healthcare workers are preparing for the possibility of a “twindemic” this fall and winter with COVID-19 and influenza.

The CDC recommends that every person 6 months and older receive a flu shot yearly, with rare exceptions. People who are at an increased risk of complications if they contract the flu include pregnant women, people over 65, and people with chronic health conditions.

Those at risk of complications from the flu are also at risk for complications from COVID-19, which makes contracting both viruses increasingly deadly.

The other concern of the twindemic is the burden on the healthcare system. Last flu season — October 2019 to April 2020 — the CDC estimated between 39 and 56 million Americans contracted the flu.

Of those who contracted it, 18 to 26 million went and sought medical care. Between 410,000 and 740,000 were hospitalized and 24,000 to 62,000 died. With the additional burden of COVID-19, which also primarily targets the respiratory system those numbers are projected to be much higher this flu season.

At the start of the pandemic earlier in the year, there was talk of “flattening the curve” in order to prevent hospitals from overflowing with more patients than healthcare professionals could take care of.

Instead of having to stay home and social distance, which people still have to do this year, the way to “flatten the curve” to make sure hospitals do not get overcrowded with flu patients alongside COVID-19 patients is to simply get the yearly flu shot.

While the world is still waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine for the flu is updated yearly and available for free to all FBP employees.

In order to maintain social distancing guidelines, instead of the shots being available in the medical trailers they will not be given at the 152F break trailer. The shot is available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

“Routine vaccination is essential to preventative care,” Adena Staff Nurse Andrea Crace says. “Getting a flu shot should not be delayed due to COVID-19. The only reason anyone should wait to get their flu shot is if they have tested positive for COVID-19, displaying symptoms, or under quarantine just so that they don’t expose healthcare workers and patients to the virus.”

Crace estimates that in the first week of being open, medical staffers at FBP have given out 120 flu shots. During the 2019-2020 flu season, 537 shots were given.

Flu shots will be available through March 2021, but the CDC recommends getting the flu shot at the beginning of the fall by the end of October. Staff members who have not yet returned to work can still come in to receive their flu shot. Any worker that cannot make it to the scheduled times flu shots are being provided can still receive the shot.

“Of course if there are special circumstances we are more than willing to help and make special time for anyone who may need that,” Crace says.

Any worker who would like to speak with a member of the medical staff and schedule a time to come in for a flu shot can call (740) 897-5523 or (740) 941-5254.