Sieck: COVID-19 risk not heightened by flu vaccine

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As the chill of fall brings us closer to flu season, conspiracy theories have already emerged about COVID-19 risk being exacerbated for those who decide to get the annual influenza vaccination.

Gray County Health Authority Dr. Kevin Sieck said that is not the case, however.

“It’s not something that’s going to increase your risk of COVID-19,” Dr. Sieck said. “That’s not an accurate statement (to say it is). It’s actually going to help. You don’t want to have the flu and COVID-19 like we’ve seen in some people. You don’t want your body trying to fight off two viruses.”

While some reports back in January of this year had stated the flu vaccine had allowed some strains of coronaviruses to become more active, they have since been debunked.

“After that was questioned and re-looked at, it’s been proven false as not a true statement,” Dr. Sieck said. “We’re not seeing anything where the flu vaccine is going to increase the risk of COVID-19 or increase the potential for it to be worse. The flu vaccine is not something I would even be worried about (being a problem).”

Pampa Medical Group and area pharmacies have begun administering the flu vaccine to those who would like to receive it and Dr. Sieck recommends receiving it in September/October. 

While it’s still early in the season, Dr. Sieck has said they are already starting to see flu cases pop up.

“We’ve seen some positive flu cases come through, but it’s not overly rampant right now,” Dr. Sieck said. “We are seeing it now, so it’s very important for people to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves from that and we don’t have the risk of fighting both viruses.”

As a result of social distancing, masks and overall stressed sanitation measures, some places are seeing lower than normal flu cases.

“They’ve reported in Chile and Australia they are having some of the fewest flu cases they’ve seen in years,” Dr. Sieck said. “It’s pretty amazing how few flu cases they are having in those areas and they are relating it to people wearing masks, washing hands, being diligent, staying home when they are sick, keeping things clean and all of these sanitary things. They are seeing a dramatic decrease in the amount of flu cases in those areas.”

For those who would like to receive a flu shot, Dr. Sieck said patients are screened at the door and can then come get a flu shot. 

There are some who have called and been able to receive the vaccination in their car. Several pharmacies have flu vaccines available, as well.

For more information on the flu vaccine or to set up an appointment to receive one, call 806-665-0801.

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