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> Flu Vaccine Vital as COVID-19 Persists 2020-09-14

 N E W S   R E L E A S E 

Your Partner for a Healthy Community
Frank Kruppa — Public Health Director


Monday, September 14, 2020

Media Contact: Samantha Hillson,, (607) 274-6714

Flu Vaccine Vital as COVID-19 Persists

(Ithaca, N.Y., September 14, 2020) – Now is the time to get a flu shot, and it is more important than ever this year during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Flu vaccines are now available at many locations throughout our community, including health care provider offices, pharmacies, and clinics. Everyone 6 months of age and over should be vaccinated every year against the flu.

Vaccination is the best protection against getting the flu (influenza) — it protects not only you but also limits the spread of flu to your loved ones and others. The flu can make even healthy people very sick and cause serious complications in children younger than 5, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

With the demand being higher this fall, supplies of flu vaccine may become limited late in the fall. So, prioritize getting your vaccine in September or October.

“We know we will have both flu and COVID-19 circulating in our community this year. While we don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19 at this time, we do have a vaccine for flu,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director. “No one wants to become ill and worry about whether or not they have COVID, and therefore need to be tested or risk spreading the disease. We want people to avoid getting the flu so that we are not unnecessarily placing individuals in isolation or quarantine while waiting for test results.”

“Additionally, if you get the flu, it may be more difficult for your body to fight off COVID-19. The flu vaccine reduces the severity of flu illness and the number of visits to the doctor’s office. It prevents days missed at work due to flu and prevents flu-related hospitalization and death,” Kruppa stated.

Kruppa continued, “We need to prepare as a community for flu season. Many of the precautions we are currently taking to address COVID-19, such as wearing masks, keeping distance, and washing hands, will also prevent flu. Getting your flu shot is an important measure you can take to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others. It will also reduce the chance of worrying about whether your symptoms are flu or COVID.”

Many signs of flu can come on suddenly and closely resemble those of COVID-19. They include fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. The signs of complications and emergency warning signs that are important to know are:

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest and severe muscle pain
  • Dehydration
  • Fever above 104°F, or any fever in an infant less than 12 weeks of age

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Persistent dizziness or confusion
  • Seizures

If you experience any of these warning signs, seek medical care immediately. Flu symptoms are fully described on this CDC website and COVID-19 symptoms on the NYS Department of Health website.

To get a flu shot, call your primary care provider, 2-1-1, or check with your pharmacy. You can also use the Vaccine Finder to find a location near you. At this time, the Health Department is not scheduling flu shots or other immunizations at our clinic due to the COVID-19 response.

Most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of an annual flu vaccination. Children may qualify for a free vaccine through the federal Vaccines for Children program. If you do not have insurance or your insurance is not accepted, you may need to pay the cost at the time of appointment. Call 211 to speak with a Health Insurance Navigator, or make an appointment online.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.