BILLINGS - The change of the seasons marks a few things, cold weather and flu season approaching.
Q2 sat down with a local nurse, Hannah Tougas of RiverStone Health to talk about the confluence of the two viruses.
The CDC repors that a record number of flu vaccine has been ordered this year in preparation, expecting many more people to get immunized.
"Right now, with the pandemic, and then having flu on top of that. It makes it even more important to get your flu vaccine. You want to be able to protect yourself from viral respiratory infections," Tougas said.
It is possible for people to be infected by both COVID and the Flu, so health officials are reminding people that now is a good time to start thinking about getting their seasonal vaccines.
"Determining is this the common flu or is it COVID? so I would say one of the main things t hat we don't see with influenza that we see with COVID is that loss of taste and smell. It can happen occassionaly with influenza but we see it a lot with COVID," Tougas said.
So how does the vaccine work?
"A common myth with the influenza vaccine is that it causes the flu. It does not cause you to get the flu. What a vaccine does is cause an immune response, once you get a vaccine," Tougas said,"So your body is recognizing this foreign thing that's been put in and it wants to fight it off, so that's how vaccines work. So that's how your body makes those antibodies to fight off if you're ever exposed to it,".
Tougas stressed the importance of getting the flu vaccine on behalf of those whose bodies cannot build any immunity to these threats.
"Those that are younger. You're protecting those that are immunocompromised that can't receive the vaccine," Tougas said.
There is also a separate dose for elderly individuals, comprised of a different combination of the A and B antigens, designed for this vulnerable age group.
"If you're feeling sick. If you feel like you have symptoms, please stay home. Lmit your social interactions out in large groups. You want to, if you stay with your household group that's always doing things together it's really going to help you minimize those exposures out in the community," Tougas said.
RiverStone Health's Clinic offers flu shots, as well as most primary care providers, and CVS, and Alberston's pharmacies.