PHOENIXVILLE, PA — As Tower Health prepares for the annual arrival of seasonal influenza (flu) in our community, while still managing COVID-19, the health system is working to ensure it has all necessary resources in place to meet the community’s healthcare needs.
While COVID-19 is still in our communities, Tower Health will not be hosting community flu vaccination clinics as in previous years. This year community members are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their primary care physician (PCP) or advance practice provider (APP) or visit any one of Tower Health Urgent Care 25 locations to receive the annual vaccine.
“A flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” said Debra Powell MD, Chief, Section of Infectious Diseases and Medical Director, Infection Prevention at Reading Hospital – Tower Health. “The vaccine can also help reduce risk for individuals most vulnerable to serious flu complications, including young babies, pregnant women, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems. It is important to remember that you may be able to pass the flu to someone else before you know you are sick. Healthy adults may be able to infect others a full day before their symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming ill.”
To help prevent the spread of flu Tower Health recommends everyone perform frequent hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizer; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; wear a face mask; practice respiratory hygiene by covering your sneeze or cough when not face masked; disinfect high touch common areas frequently (phones, computers, tablets) and continue to practice social distancing.
Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses that are caused by different viruses. The signs and symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can be similar including:
- Fever higher than 100°F
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
COVID-19 can also cause non-flu-like symptoms, including loss of taste or smell.
For additional information on symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and the cold visit towerhealth.org/flu.
Individuals showing symptoms of seasonal flu or COVID-19 should contact their PCP or APP to determine appropriate next steps for further evaluation.
“The best time to get a flu shot is before influenza starts circulating widely. It takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to be fully protected, states Robert McMurtrie, DO, MBA, FAOCA, CPE, Chief Medical Officer, Phoenixville Hospital. “For most people, vaccination now will provide protection through the whole flu season. The vaccine is not perfect, but vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness or death. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever since people can get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. A recent study showed people who had COVID-19 and influenza B were sicker than those who had COVID-19 alone. So take care of yourself and get your flu shot. I got mine.”
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