Weekly tips and advice from your neighborhood
Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge providers.


Why This Year’s Flu Vaccine
is More Important than Ever
Even as we continue to protect
ourselves against COVID-19 with
masks and social distancing, we’re
about to face another contagious virus.
Flu season doesn’t take a break during
a pandemic.
While the rates of death are lower
for flu than COVID-19, flu remains a
serious threat, especially to vulnerable
populations. During last year’s flu
season, between 24,000 and 62,000
deaths were attributed to flu in the U.S.
(By comparison, the country had about
178,000 deaths related to COVID-19 as
of late August.) The flu takes a toll on
healthy individuals as well.
According to the CDC, about 3
percent to 11 percent of individuals
will become sick with the flu each year.
Cumulatively, Americans miss about 17
million days of work each year because
of flu.
MD, infectious
disease specialist
at Carolinas
System Blue
Ridge, is
encouraging as
many people as
possible to get a
flu vaccine this
Sampath, MD
year to protect
themselves and to
protect the community.

“We fully expect increased numbers
of people with respiratory illness –
some people will have the flu, and some
will have COVID-19,” Dr. Sampath
said. “Some people may even have
both, which could bring higher level of
consequences by being dually infected.”
Getting a flu shot will help and Dr.
Sampath says every person over the
age of six months should get a flu shot.
People with chronic medical conditions,
at extremes of age and pregnant women
are more affected by flu than others, and
they should certainly get a flu vaccine to
protect themselves.
“But, just as with COVID-19, the
importance of preventing spread from
healthy younger adults to older or
other individuals at increased risk for
hospitalization and even death from
flu is important, so I would caution
against the mindset that it’s only certain
populations that need a flu vaccine,”
Dr. Sampath said. “We need to do
everything we can to prevent both flu
and COVID-19, regardless of perceived
risk to that individual. This is more
about the community working together
to protect each other.”
To get a flu shot while minimizing
exposure to COVID-19 may be tricky.
Many places are looking at innovative
ways of getting you the flu vaccine
such as drive-thru but you can be seen
safely in a medical office or pharmacy.
“It’s just important to wear a mask that
covers your entire nose and mouth,



avoid going while sick, maintain at
least six feet between you and other
individuals in the facility and wash your
hands regularly, especially after your
visit,” Dr. Sampath said.
You should get the flu shot in
late September or early October. The
most important thing, though, is to get
the shot.
“Children who have never been
vaccinated before will need two flu
shots,” Dr. Sampath said. “So for
children receiving the flu shot for the
first time, pediatricians recommend start
that process in early now.”
Dr. Sampath emphasized that you
cannot get sick from the flu vaccine.
“After a flu shot, some people feel a
little muscle soreness, and some people
may get a low-grade temperature the
next day,” he said. “But most people
who get it, go about their day and
they’re just fine.”
The vaccine can be administered
by needle or mist. “Flu mist is a live
inactivated virus and as such is not
recommended for older individuals
or people with compromised immune
systems,” Dr. Sampath said. “In prior
flu seasons flu mist was shown to be
less effective in some populations
compared to the flu shot. For those
reasons I generally recommend the
flu shot.”
Some people have a true fear
of needles or a reason they cannot

get that flu shot. In those cases, the
flu mist is better than not getting
anything, if you’re not highly
The flu vaccine is scientists’ best
guess on what this year’s flu strains
will be. It is not perfect however it is
the best choice for protecting yourself
against infection with influenza.
Multiple studies have shown that the
flu vaccine can reduce hospitalizations
and reduce risk of death in older
With the dual risk of flu and
COVID-19 this fall and winter, you
should continue with the current
protective measures. “Wear a mask that
covers your nose and mouth, stay at
least six feet away from people, stay
home when sick, wash your hands
regularly and avoid group gatherings,”
Dr. Sampath said. “These measures are
going to stand throughout this entire
year, at minimum.”
The flu shot is the best thing that is
currently available to protect against
the flu. “My hope is that vaccine rates
are higher for all populations this year.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective.”
Dr. Sampath said.

Please contact your primary
care provider or call

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sponsored by the Blue Ridge HealthCare
Foundation in support of Levine Cancer
Institute Blue Ridge and its patients. All the
money raised supports patients who need help
with medication, transportation, etc.
Lights for $10 each may be purchased at
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