Facing Flu Season During a Pandemic—Two for the Price of One

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By: Ananya Chandhok, Kurt Danner, Olivia Price, Teo Fabi

Flu shots in the 49th ward are being done differently this year to comply with COVID precautions; therefore, the Alderman’s office will not be offering them this flu season.

While COVID-19 rampages across the country, flu season is starting to ramp up as well, making the flu shot more important than ever. From December to February around 40 to 50 million Americans are at risk of contracting the flu, with roughly 800,000 requiring hospitalization. 

Additionally, by having the flu, individuals will also be at a greater risk for contracting other pathogens—most notably COVID-19–as a result of being already immunocompromised. Keeping the heightened health dangers in mind, it is of the utmost importance to be vaccinated so as to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with the exponential increase in patient count, and in tandem, decrease an individual’s overall risk associated with contracting COVID-19. 

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, only 59% of adults are planning to get their flu shots, but doctors are urging everyone to take the time to get flu shots in order to prevent further strain on hospitals and medical resources. Dr. Jacob Billhartz, a Pediatric and Hepatology physician, strongly asserts this stance as well. 

He said, “Every year we have a lot of admissions with people getting really sick with influenza and thousands die…With Covid admissions and flu admissions the hospital could get overwhelmed quickly. We are really encouraging everyone to get the flu vaccine.”

Flu vaccines are not 100% effective, but receiving the vaccine can make flu symptoms less severe. Vaccines are meant to expose your immune system to a weaker version of the virus so the body is less susceptible to get the flu. Dr. Billhartz dispelled myths that vaccinations can be the causation of someone contracting the virus. 

“The flu shot does not cause the flu. It is a dead virus. Once we are exposed to it through the shot our body recognizes it and will make antibodies against it. Therefore, when truly exposed to the actual live virus we are immune to that strain,” Dr. Billhartz said.

Additionally, local community members are also rushing to get their immunizations, so as to keep the risk of contracting both the flu and COVID-19 at bay. Abby Doyle (19), a second-year Biology student at Loyola University Chicago, plans on getting vaccinated at the soonest. 

“Recovering from the flu is easy, but those who are immunocompromised will be more negatively affected if they contract it. Similar to wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID, getting the flu shot is important to protect yourself and others from getting and passing the flu.”

Emilia Lira (20), a second-year Biology student at Loyola plans on following suit. As a healthcare worker at the forefront of patient care, she and many other health professionals continue to experience this season first hand.

“From RN’s to PT’s, we all want to be healthy and our best selves to provide the best treatment for our residents, especially during this flu and COVID season…Overall, I chose to get the flu shot to take care of myself before I continue to take care of others,” 

You can schedule an appointment to receive flu shots from these locations in Rogers Park and Edgewater, or you can contact your primary doctor. 

Rogers Park:

CVS: 6510 NORTH SHERIDAN ROAD

Chicago, IL 60626

773-338-4384

Walgreens: 7410 N CLARK ST

Chicago, IL 60626

Contact: Pharmacy at 773-743-6784

 Edgewater:

CVS: 6150 N BROADWAY ST

Chicago, IL 60660

773-274-9337

Walgreens: 6121 N BROADWAY

Chicago, IL 60660

Contact: Pharmacy at 773-764-8961

Walgreens: 5625 N RIDGE AVE

Chicago, IL 60660

Contact: Pharmacy at 773-989-7546

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