Thanks to mask wearing and social distancing efforts, incidences of flu were minimal in 2020. However, experts are concerned we may not be that lucky in 2021. As healthcare providers prepare to see more flu cases this season, Sherwood Urgent Care centers are ready with the flu vaccine.

There is a possibility we may be entering a flu season with a higher level of susceptibility than usual, according to Matt Browning, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Sherwood Urgent Care centers.

“With mask mandates and social distancing now less prevalent, there still is the possibility of contracting both flu and COVID-19,” Browning explained.

“Also, in a normal season when a person recovers from a seasonal influenza infection, they retain some level of immunity that protects them in the future for a period of time,” Browning said.

“Because there was little flu virus activity last season, adult immunity (especially among those who were not vaccinated last season), will now depend on exposure to viruses two or more seasons earlier.”

Sherwood Urgent Care centers in Batesville, as well as locations in Conway, Hot Springs, Lonoke, Maumelle, Quitman, Russellville, and Searcy now offer the 2021-2022 flu vaccination for the influenza A strains (H3N2 and H1N1), and influenza B strains (Victoria and Yamagata).

Fluzone Standard Dose Quadrivalent: For ages 6 months and older. (First-time flu shot patients up to age 9 may require two separate doses one month apart.)

Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent: For ages 65 and older.

“Although a flu vaccination is not a guarantee you won’t get the flu, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity if you do catch flu, thus reducing the risk of hospitalization and even death,” Browning said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September and October are the best times to get vaccinated to obtain immunity throughout flu season. “Also important to remember is that it takes two weeks after your shot to achieve full benefit.”

The vaccination is covered by most insurance plans at no cost to the patient. Also, flu vaccines are generally free for anyone with Medicare Part B, employer health insurance or other insurance that conforms to the Affordable Care Act, as well as for many Medicaid beneficiaries.

For patients without these forms of insurance, the cost is $30 for the Fluzone Standard Dose Quadrivalent and $75 for the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent.

It’s important to know that because flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, testing for both illnesses may be necessary, depending on symptoms. Flu shots are available on a walk-in basis, seven days a week, at any Sherwood Urgent Care center.

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