COVID RESPONSE
Southeastern Synod ELCA

Making a Wish! (Flu Vaccinations)

Connie - September 08, 2020
You have finished roasting a whole chicken and it smells so good!  It is time to cut the meat off the bone and get to the wishbone.  It makes no difference how old you are, making a wish on that little bone is always competitive and fun!  So, if you are anticipating making a wish on a wishbone today or just making a wish without that bone, what would you be wishing for? 
 
After six months of social distancing, visiting with friends and family via Zoom, FaceTime, or from 10 feet across the driveway, I am wishing daily for the return of my former life or some semblance of it. I know that my former, “normal” life may not be the new normal and if I do not want to risk getting a dreaded, perhaps deadly disease, I am going to have to wait it out in the present coronavirus quarantine until there is a vaccine for COVID-19. I frequently hear on television that coronavirus paired with influenza is now being referred to as a possible twin-pandemic. If that isn’t enough to scare me into getting my annual flu vaccine, I do not know what will. I am wondering what will scare the 49.2 percent of the American population who did not receive a flu vaccine in 2019 to get vaccinated this year? A slightly lower average of individuals, 45.7 to 48.3 percent of the population in the ELCA Southeastern Synod (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee) did not received a flu vaccine last year. In other words, close to one-half of the individuals whom you might encounter in church or other public venues will not be vaccinated for influenza. This data makes one wonder if those individuals will be any more concerned about being vaccinated for COVID-19 when that vaccine does become available. 
 
To say that the flu shot is singularly the most important available immunization that you might receive this season is an understatement. You might consider the flu vaccination to be an added protection from the coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, the flu vaccine has nothing to do with providing you with immunity from Covid-19 but it will certainly help to keep you out of the walk-in-clinic or doctor’s office where others might be ill.  
 
There are several different configurations of vaccines available for the 2020-2021 flu season and providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference for any one vaccine over the other.   
 
Vaccine options this season include:
  • Standard dose flu shots.
  • High dose shots for people 65 and older.
  • Shots made with adjuvant for people 65 and older. (Adjuvant - a substance which enhances an immune response to an antigen.)
  • Shots made with the virus grown in cell culture. No eggs are involved in the production of this vaccine.
  • Shots using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that do not require having a candidate vaccine virus (CVV) sample to produce. 
  • Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). A vaccine given with attenuated (weakened) vaccine given by nasal spray. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not state how readily available these options will be across the United States. They do say that there are no changes in recommendations on timing of vaccination this flu season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated, however, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue even in January or later.
 
So, you may now have made your wish and said your prayers for a Covid-19 vaccination.  The flu vaccine is here or will soon be and it is now time for your flu vaccination!  Put on your mask, do your social distancing and roll up your sleeve for a flu vaccination!  You will have done your part for God’s Work, Our Hands by protecting yourself and others around you from one-half of the twin-pandemic!
 
Be Well and Be Safe!
 
References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Influenza (Flu), Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020-2021 Season, www.cdc.gov.
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018-2019 Influenza Season Vaccination Coverage Report, FluVaxView, Cumulative monthly influenza vaccination coverage estimates for persons 6 months and older by state, HHS region and the United States, National Immunization Survey-Flu (NIS-Flu), 2018-2019 influenza season, www.cdc.gov
 
Cornelia Pearson, RN, MN
Member, St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Franklin, TN