CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Anticipating a turbulent flu season, FourPoints Health is committed to making flu shots available to everyone in the community, including those without a primary care provider or health insurance.
Jason Wright, a nurse practitioner at the FourPoints Health St. George clinic, said medical experts predict a rise in the spread of respiratory illnesses this fall and winter, including the flu and COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way for Southern Utahns to protect themselves and the people around them.
“We strongly suggest the flu shot this year, specifically because of the ongoing coronavirus issues,” he said.
The flu vaccine is currently available at all FourPoints Health locations, including St. George, Cedar City and on the Shivwits reservation in Ivins. FourPoints Health accepts most insurance providers. For those without coverage, flu shots are offered on a sliding fee scale based on income.
“If we can keep the flu symptoms down with the flu shot or keep people from getting the flu, we can rule that out compared to the coronavirus,” Wright said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, widespread flu vaccination will help protect communities and reduce strain on health care systems as they continue responding to COVID-19 cases.
Vaccination during the 2020-2021 flu season is strongly encouraged for all individuals, particularly those over age 65 or who have a high risk of developing serious complications from both the flu and COVID-19. Risk factors include chronic kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes.
FourPoints Health recommends that people receive a flu shot every year, starting as early as 6 months old. The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination.
The best time to get vaccinated is in late September or early October, Wright said, before flu viruses begin to spread through the community. However, the vaccine remains effective well into the season. FourPoints Health will continue to offer flu shots as late as March.
Typically peaking between December and February, every flu season is different, and symptoms vary from person to person. The CDC estimates that during the 2018-2019 flu season, flu viruses were associated with 35.5 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths.
“Flu shots are always important because they can protect you from the flu,” Wright said. “If you do get the flu, they can make your symptoms a lot less intense.”
In addition to receiving a flu shot, FourPoints Health promotes everyday preventative measures that people can take to protect themselves and others against germs. These include frequent hand-washing, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and staying home when sick.
Owned and operated by the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, FourPoints Health is a community-based medical system with five clinics in the southern and central regions of the state.
Many of the staff are tribal members, working for and giving back to their tribe and society. At FourPoints Health, providers seek to treat more than just a patient’s physical body; their mind, emotions and spirit all play a role. These four points of the ancient medicine wheel define health in the Paiute way of life.
FourPoints Health was established with the mission of providing quality affordable health care to the community. Preventive and primary care, dental care and behavioral health services for adults and children are available to everyone on a fee-for-service basis, regardless of insurance status.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News
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