• 37°

Reasons for optimism this flu season: vaccine, testing, masks

Fall is known for cooler weather, the holiday spirit and the beginning of respiratory virus season, and this year we must be more mindful than ever.

We are familiar with the usual viruses such as influenza A and B, plus the common cold and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Now, we have COVID-19 to consider as well. These viruses in our communities can cause very serious illnesses to those who are susceptible to infection and/or already ill, including children, the elderly and those with chronic conditions.

The good news is that we have a blueprint to protect ourselves and those around us, and fortunately one of these viruses has a vaccine. If we all do our part and receive the flu vaccine, wear masks when in public, wash hands often and practice social distancing, we can help reduce the spread of these dangerous viruses and stay well.

Additionally, the flu vaccine is easily accessible. You can call your primary care provider for guidance, visit your local pharmacy, health department or find a local flu shot clinic near you by visiting VidantHealth.com/SafeCommunity.

Consistent with how we keep Vidant team members safe each year from the flu virus, we recommend everyone be proactive at home and out in the community to prevent infections. In addition to receiving the influenza vaccine yourself, some tips for preventing the spread of viruses include the same measures that have helped in our fight against COVID-19 including the three Ws: wear a mask, wait at least six feet apart from others and wash hands often.

If you do get sick, Vidant has a robust testing capacity to test for flu and COVID-19 and can help you diagnose your illness and get you the treatment you need.

Our success this flu season will depend on our ability to get a vaccine and work together to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.

Dr. David Lewis is the regional medical director, Vidant Medical Group–Beaufort County.