Flu season is arriving in Cherokee County, seemingly blowing in with the chilly winds that have had area residents shivering for several days. While there's always a chance warmer temperatures will return for a brief period of time, there's very little chance the seasonal influenza virus will bypass this area.

That's why it's a good idea to get a vaccination, sooner rather than later. And in light of the expected uptick in COVID-19 cases, that vaccination could prove even more efficacious. No, they are not the same type of virus, despite uneducated rumors to the contrary - and yes, COVID-19 is statistically more deadly. But imagine the strain on an immune system that's trying to fight two serious viruses at one time!

Every year, when flu vaccinations are on offer, the clown car trundles around various social media pages and through mainstream media sources and tries to claim that the flu shot causes the flu. That's laughable, and any medical professional - regardless of his or her political affiliation - will tell you so. Only some shyster trying to make money off of his own brand of "snake oil" will tout a better alternative, and he'll be lying in the process.

There are also folks who insist the flu shot is more dangerous than the flu itself. They, too, are lacking the evidence to back up those claims. Flu vaccinations don't cause autism or Lou Gehrig's disease or any other syndrome or disability. They are created each season by scientists who are hedging their bets on what strains will make their rounds in the U.S. So what that does mean is that you might still get the flu; it just won't be one of the strains in the vaccination cocktail. Or, if you already had the flu before you got the shot, you still might get sick.

Flu shots aren't expensive; sometimes, they're free, depending on insurance and availability through the local health department. Some pharmacists - like Jason Mutz at Reasor's - also give them. If you have Blue Cross, you don't have to pay. And Jason is good enough with a needle you won't even feel it. This is true of many providers, and that's important for those who hate getting shots.

Cherokee Nation Health Services facilities, too, are offering free flu shots at various clinics - which will be announced by the Daily Press and elsewhere through Dec. 6. The same is true for the Cherokee County Health Department, as well as NeoHealth sites. Some of these are drive-thru clinics that will take just moments of your time. And with COVID-19 precautions firmly in place, those who worry about getting infected while getting their shots can rest easier this year than ever.

A recent poll in the Daily Press indicated nearly 64 percent would "definitely" get a flu shot this year. Another 24 percent said they definitely would not. It's hard to understand or rationalize that attitude, when this vaccination has saved countless lives, and the risk of adverse affects is so small.

Don't put yourself or your family at more risk than they already are with COVID-19. Get a flu shot, sooner rather than later.

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