Saint Francis Hospital System officials said it is safe to get a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, and we're glad that question has been answered in time for everyone to get both before flu season.

We haven't heard too much about flu deaths since COVID-19 came along, but it hasn't gone away. 

From Sept. 1, 2020-Aug. 28, 2021, 19 people in Muskogee County were hospitalized with the flu. Muskogee County has seen 233 deaths so far from COVID-19 with 164 of those occurring within the city of Muskogee. There have been 8,440 COVID-19 deaths in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the virus that causes COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, the virus that causes COVID-19 is generally more contagious than flu viruses. Also, COVID-19 has more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continual spreading among people as time progresses.

"You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, after getting vaccinated and possible side effects of vaccines are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines," according to the OSDH.

Adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, young children, people with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, children with neurologic conditions, chronic kidney disease, racial and ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities, should receive a flu shot in October, the OSDH says.

At this stage in the pandemic, most of us have known someone who has either been infected with COVID-19 or died from it. There is help. Both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are readily available. We should not take chances with our health and the health of our loved ones. Avoid getting either of these maladies by getting vaccinated. And remember — you can get them at the same time.

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