AUSTIN, TX — Given the confluence of the coronavirus with the flu season, medical officials at Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers on Wednesday urged its patients to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible.
“Getting a flu vaccine has never been more important,” Dr. Alan Schalscha, chief medical officer for CommUnityCare Health Centers, said in a prepared statement. “A severe flu season in the midst of a deadly coronavirus pandemic could overwhelm our health care system. Flu vaccines and face masks are two proven defenses that all of us need to embrace, especially as people start gathering indoors during the fall and winter and during the holiday season.”
COVID-19 and flu are both highly contagious, potentially fatal respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Similar to COVID-19, flu spreads through droplets when one talks, coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are also similar, officials noted, so it is difficult to know the difference without a test.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also is warning everyone to be prepared for the coming flu season by getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone six months and older. High-risk individuals include:
CommUnityCare, Central Health’s affiliated Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) system, is expecting some 30,000 vaccines in the coming weeks for its patients, officials noted, an order based on last flu season’s total vaccinations and was placed in April.
“We’ve come so far slowing the spread of COVID-19, now is not the time to let down our guard,” Central Health President & CEO Mike Geeslin said in a prepared statement. “All of us need to get a flu vaccine and continuing practice healthy habits meaning always wearing a mask in public, washing our hands often, and avoiding crowded indoor gatherings. Protecting yourself, your family and our entire community could give hospitals the space they may need to treat patients with coronavirus when we experience another surge.”
CommUnityCare operates 28 clinics in and around Travis County, and offers two walk-in clinics where no appointment is needed: CommUnityCare Hancock on 1000 E. 41st St., Suite 925 and CommUnityCare Southeast Health & Wellness at 2901 Montopolis Dr.
Pediatric patients can visit any CommUnityCare Carousel location without an appointment, officials added. To find the nearest CommUnityCare Health Center, click here.
Health Medical Access Program (MAP) members may visit their primary care provider, CommUnityCare, People’s Community Clinic, Lone Star Circle of Care and receive a flu vaccine. Members can visit one of MAP’s contracted urgent care clinics, FastMed and NextCare, but will pay $25 at NextCare and $35 at FastMed.
FastMed Urgent Care locations
1920 E. Riverside Dr., Suite A-110.
3607 Manor Rd., Suite 100.
3311 N. Lamar Blvd.
14008 Shadow Glen Blvd., Suite 100, Manor, Texas.
2303 Ranch Rd., Suite 210, Lakeway, Texas.
717 Texas 71, Suite 100, Bastrop, Texas.
4506 William Dr., Suite 120, Georgetown, Texas.
135 Bunton Rd., Kyle, Texas.
NextCare Urgent Care locations
351 Cypress Creed Rd., Suite 103, Cedar Park, Texas.
6001 W. William Cannon, Suite 302, Austin.
1240 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, Texas.
900 N. Austin Ave., Georgetown, Texas.
1701 U.S. Highway 281 North, Marble Falls, Texas.
This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch