November 27, 2022
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Virginia health leaders push for flu vaccine as hospitals crowd ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A joint statement from the Virginia Department of Heath and and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association says patients are already flooding into doctors’ offices, hospital emergency departments and pediatric ICU’s during early days of flu and respiratory illness.

They say there’s been a 41% increase in flu like illness in the Commonwealth and if these trends continue, this could strain health care systems in some communities.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away but when it comes to getting flu and covid vaccines, health officials say better late than never.

Carilion Clinic Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Anthony Baffoe-Bonnie says its been more than 10 years since influenza elevations were this high. He says the key to having a safe holiday this year is having a plan, with getting your flu shot at the top of the list.

“It prevents you from having severe disease or even getting influenza. It decreases the risk of influenza,” said Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie. He says step two is getting your covid -19 booster shot. He says even if you’ve done those things, if you’re not feeling well, quickly get tested.

Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie said, “If you have the antigen test at home, you quickly use it. If the test positive, seek care immediately. If you are symptomatic and your antigen test is negative, still seek care because in that setting you’ll want to do the PCR test for covid.”

Lastly, he says if you plan to attend large gatherings indoors, wearing a mask is not a bad idea.

Carilion Clinic is hosting a free flu vaccine clinic on Tuesday at the Children’s Tanglewood Center from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.



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