City of Plantation Podcast

Episode 25 - Flu, Covid, and the Flu shot

September 10, 2020 City of Plantation Episode 25
City of Plantation Podcast
Episode 25 - Flu, Covid, and the Flu shot
Show Notes Transcript

Thank you for listening to the City of Plantation podcast. In this episode, we are please to once again have RN Rachel Guran on our podcast, to speak with us about the upcoming Flu season and how it may interact with COVID-19. We also discuss the benefit of the Flu shot and dispel some common myths. This Podcast is aimed at keeping the residents of Plantation informed of events and important information happening throughout our city. Please subscribe to this podcast, as we will be producing new episodes weekly.

Guest: Rachel Guran, RN
Hosts: Cary Blanchard and Ezra Lubow
Production: Ezra Lubow
Music: Oakwood Station c/o Epidemic Sounds
Art: The City of Plantation

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the city of plantations podcast. I am Carrie Blanchard, battalion chief of public affairs for the plantation fire department. Thank you for tuning in our podcast is designed to keep you up to date on all the latest happenings and activities in about and around the city of plantation on our episodes. We talk directly with the leaders decision makers and the movers and shakers who make plantation the great city that it is.

Speaker 2:

All right . Welcome back to another episode of the city of plantation podcast, Carrie and I are very pleased to once again, have Rachel Garan on our show. As you may remember, Rachel is an epidemiologist and an infection D infection control authority for the Memorial healthcare system here in South Florida. So welcome back, right.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for having me. Okay. So I guess today, we're going to talk about the flu season and as if the flu season isn't bad enough, normally we're mixing it with COVID this year. So can you tell us about the flu season running October through me ? How will the flu season differ this year with the COVID-19 pandemic going on? So we have been talking a lot about how flu and COVID combined can be really bad for our society, for healthcare organizations, for the people as a whole. And I really liked the term that was coined by the New York times. They called it the twin demic because okay , we are in a pandemic with COVID worldwide, and now we're going to have to double that with the flu. So there are a lot of things happening that if we don't get the flu under control, it can just explode with both COVID and the flu. And so we know that flu is a vaccine preventable virus. So getting a vaccine to prevent the flu will help us in numerous ways. Um, first of all, it protects yourself. It protects people around you, cause you're not spreading the flu to people around you. Um , it protects our healthcare organizations because we don't have enough support. Um, we don't, you know, the healthcare workers are tired from our COVID surges. So adding flew into that with COVID is going to be a really, really bad situation in the fall. Getting a flu shot helps prevent doctor's visits, which none of us want helps prevent hospitalizations because people can get really, really sick from the flu. And it's the same people who are getting really, really sick from COVID elderly people, or even just people. We don't understand why they're the ones who get really, really sick that happens the same thing with flu, and then it even prevents death. There are flu deaths every year. So preventing this with a vaccine is so important, right? I am a working mom. So I just want to talk about that for a second on why this flu season is important. I work and my husband works. So we get our flu shots or kids get our flu shots because we want, we want to go to work. So our kids have to go to school. We don't want to be missing sick days all the time. You know, it puts a wrench in everybody's plans, everybody's schedules. So if there's gives me something that I can keep my kids safe, I am giving that flu shot. Right ,

Speaker 2:

Right. Just to circle back to something that you had mentioned about the same people who are getting very sick from, COVID also getting very sick from the flu. Um, so is that immunocompromised people, people with preexisting medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, or are those the same people that we see affected a lot worse from the flu?

Speaker 1:

Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. Um, there is a certain type of person, and we don't know why yet, who will get either very sick from the flu or very sick from COVID. They might not have any of those preexisting conditions, but then there are people who are predisposed because of their risk factors that they will get very sick from the flu. And that's exactly who you named , um, the elderly or very, very young children , uh, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma or heart disease or diabetes. Uh, and we have seen that obesity has, has been a really negative , um, predictive risk factor for COVID.

Speaker 2:

Right, right. So I know that there's always a lot of , uh, myths out there and tall tales and a lot of , uh, I don't, I want to stay away from the word paranoia , but maybe a lot of paranoia about the flu vaccine. Can you help us dispel some of those?

Speaker 1:

Sure. I, I love doing this. I love doing it on Facebook. Like you'll find me trying to do the good fight to dispel all of these myths , um , because there are so many and they're just get pervasive in our community. Um , so one of the first ones that we hear all the time is, Oh, my friend got sick from the flu shot. So I'm probably going to get sick too. And that one is, is easy to explain as a myth because there is a two week period where your body has to build that immunity after you get your flu shot. So if you get the flu, if you get sick in that two weeks, like the flu shot wouldn't have helped. Um, if you get sick with a cold or any other number of respiratory viruses, unfortunately the flu shot wouldn't have helped that. Right . Um, and then some people do end up getting the flu, but studies have shown that you are severely less sick if you get the flu shot than if you hadn't have gotten the flu shot. Um, so all of those things like it could be, or they could be the little vaccine reactions. People might not like that, but that's totally normal happens to our kids. When our kids get vaccines could be a little red at the area, little warm , um, or even a cough or a couple night sweats. And then you take a Tylenol and you're fine.

Speaker 2:

Right. I also think it's important that people understand that there's no vaccine in the world for anything that is 100% rock solid, effective, right. There's always going to be some variables, but we're not shooting for that. We're shooting for vaccinating as many people as possible to reduce the amount of people who are sick, not to eliminate them, correct. Or eliminate them from getting sick. I mean, we don't want to eliminate anyone. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

Our goal in public health is to protect as many people as possible, which is why vaccines have been so important in our history to eliminate diseases through vaccination. Right. And the truth is that the flu vaccine is everywhere. Like you can go to Publix the , see , you know, the local drug stores , the CVS, the Walgreens, and get them there. They're everywhere. You're not even in convenience to try to find it or get it. So I just wonder what the aversion is, why I guess people hear these myths and that's what they believe. Yes. Um, and there's also places who will give you money , uh, or gift cards to get the flu shot. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I won't mention, cause I don't want to promote any specific grocery store chain, but there is a grocery store chain. Cause I was in there the other day getting a prescription and the pharmacist said, do you want $10? All you have to do is get a flu shot. And I said, no, thank you. I get that at work. But you know, thank you. So yeah, they're paying people to get the flu shot.

Speaker 1:

So COVID-19 flew two can, both of them exist in a person at the same time. There has not been a lot of studies that have shown that to happen yet. Okay. So we're just going to have to wait and see. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Yeah . So we have no data specifically yet.

Speaker 1:

We have seen a co-infection very, very limited cases. I think like one of the , um, if the flu and another respiratory virus, which makes us think that yes it is.

Speaker 2:

Right. So the precautions. Right. And I , I think people want to know if the precautions for COVID-19 are the same precautions for the flu. Can you expand on that?

Speaker 1:

Yes. So we are all doing a very good job at taking precautions against COVID-19 right now. So in theory, that means our flu season could be lessened because we are all wearing masks, washing our hands. I'm staying physically distant, avoiding crowded, closed spaces, as much as possible and those risky type behaviors because of that, we can prevent COVID and the flu at the same time.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Awesome. So it's a two for one. Yeah. Very good. As far as the flu shot, I know we talked about the importance of getting it and I know we talked about the benefits of it, but Willy do anything to assist in not getting COVID-19

Speaker 1:

Because they're two different viruses. Unfortunately it won't. Uh , but what we need to do is get the flu shot. All of us , uh , you know, in the public, those of us who will be offered the COVID vaccine, healthcare workers will probably be offered first. We will first responders too . So we will all get the COVID vaccine. And that will definitely helps start to help. Um, our society see less and less COVID and flu,

Speaker 2:

Right? And at the end of the day, getting the flu vaccine and avoiding getting the flu also reduces your risk of having exp well, not having exposure, but getting infected with COVID-19 as well. Right? Because being sick and your immune system, having to defend against the flu will make you more susceptible to COVID-19 and if they can coexist, that would be problematic.

Speaker 1:

Again, you're also preventing going to doctor's offices, which could be a high risk place we're getting COVID or getting hospitalized and just being around the sick people in general. So that's why flu preventable. We can do that. Awesome. So let's talk about, I know this we're so far into this, like the flattening of the curve, right? So we kind of gone through a couple of waves. Do we anticipate there being another wave of this? When the flu kicks into gear here in the coming weeks, we are anticipating peaks and valleys in a wave of COVID-19. I don't have a lot to say about that, but something like we're seeing certain populations that are still increasing in small pockets, for example, college students. So expecting college students to go back to campus and then not engage in risky behaviors is very hard. So we are definitely, we are seeing people become positive on college campuses, and then we're still seeing some positive numbers in our under 18 population, especially the high school age population. So that could be for the same reason, we just spoke about the college age kids. Um , so encouraging people to, to mask as much as possible to stay away from closed spaces , uh , physically distant is the best thing we can continue to do to flatten and avoid those peaks and downs .

Speaker 2:

Right. And for the most part, do we believe that , uh, or does the epidemiological community believe that those , uh, sustain numbers are even increase amongst college aged students and high school aged students is predominantly due to behavior? Yes. Yeah. Well, I mean, not in a negative way, but right. I mean, we were all 18 and younger. We were all teenagers, we were rebellious and we wanted to rebel against the authority and all that. So, you know, when they're with their friends and they're , they're not distancing, they're not wearing masks. I'm just curious if there's another dynamic at play or if it's really just not adhering to those safety measures.

Speaker 1:

The second dynamic that I don't think we touched on the first time and that's with our public health infrastructure, they have to be able to do outreach to these communities. Um, in this case, the college kids and the high school kids. So if that specific community is not receptive to our public health professionals, meaning they don't want to snitch on whatever party they went to. Um, then our contact tracing doesn't work and we can't mitigate the spread. We can't contain the spread. So that's another reason why it's hard in those populations, right. I'm also convinced liquid the college kids cause they , a lot of them had gone home, you know, the first semester of the year they spent the summer. So now they're back to school and they're kind of over it. You know, this is what it boils down to. They're just over this already. They're like, they're done, they'll risk it, I guess. Yes. I mean, they're not the business owners who know that, what they have to do in order to keep their business open. Right. So they're not the moms and dads like us who have the kids who want to have a normal life for our kids and go to school and everything.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. They're teenagers. I mean really? It was there anything we didn't cover. Rachel, is there anything that you wanted to discuss that we didn't ask about?

Speaker 1:

Get those couple of other myths that I see.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Okay . We like myth busting on this show.

Speaker 1:

So we do get a lot of questions about, I can't get the flu shot because I am allergic to eggs. So that's a really good one. That means people have done their homework, which I love people who do their homework. Some flu shots are made with eggs. There are flu shots that are not made with eggs. So all you have to do is talk to your doctor and then you will be able to get vaccinated for the flu. Awesome . Um, another myth is I am pregnant and I should probably stay away from the flu shot. It is so important for pregnant women to get the flu shot because it gives some protection to the baby. When they're born too young, to be able to get vaccinated babies who are born right away are so delicate. They're susceptible to germs. We get a lot of grandparents who want to do the hugging and the kissing. Um , so that's dangerous for COVID and it's dangerous for the flu by a pregnant mom, getting the vaccine. She is imparting some of that protection to the baby. And then we know that studies have shown that it reduces the chance of pregnant women to be hospitalized, which again is high risk. Not only in general, is it high risk for pregnant moms, but it is high risk now hospitalized COVID right. Another big miss is my baby is too young to get the flu vaccine. So there are very few people who shouldn't get the flu shot. It's basically children who are less than six months old or people who have had a definite allergic reaction to the flu shot are really the only ones who can't , um, people with a history of [inaudible] syndrome, they should talk to their doctors, but that's rare. So those babies over six months, we want them to get the flu shot. They have been shown to reduce a child's risk of dying of the flu. And every single year, we have to see kids in Broward County die from the flu. So it's really sad. And then people who really need the flu shot, like what? We talked about, kids, kids over six months because they are at risk. And then other people with high risks of complications, children with asthma is a huge high risk. So we want them to get vaccinated. Um , and then some of those other comorbidities or other health complications, we've talked about people with weakened immune systems, people with lung diseases and heart problems, very important that they should talk to their doctor to get their flu shot. Right ? A big mess is my grandmother. Who's 80. Perhaps a flu shot can debilitate her immune system and that's not true. So if you have a chronic illness, if our elderly population who's so at risk for the flu, getting a flu shot is very important to help prevent complications, hospitalizations, and death .

Speaker 2:

Awesome. I , you reminded me of a question , um, that came up , uh , amongst a conversation, but the question was why if you get the flu shot and it creates an immunity or reduces the impact of the virus, why do you have to get a flu shot every year? Why don't you just get one? And then you have that immunity. And I'm wondering if you can expand on that for our listeners.

Speaker 1:

So it's a little bit similar to what I said before with the viruses are hard to make vaccines for. Um, that's one reason. The second reason is that the flu vaccine is made to be specific for the strains of the flu that are supposed to be circulating. And they look at what strains are going around in the opposite hemisphere to then make the vaccine for us. And that's why one of the reasons why Florida has such an interesting flu season, we see flu almost year round. We can say we have a year round flu season , um , because of travelers who have always come to our beautiful locations and just flu never goes away.

Speaker 2:

Right? Carrie , anything.

Speaker 1:

I'm good. Thank you very much. We really appreciate you taking the time to inform us and educate us. Thank you. It's so it's so important to get a flu shot. And then , you know, as we've seen with the COVID, there is no flu shot. There's nothing you can do. This is something that is preventable. We can do something about it and we should. Yup . Everybody should.

Speaker 2:

And it's easy, right? You can even be paid for it. So it's like, there's really nothing to stop you. Rachel has dispelled the majority of myths that we hear a lot of people say as well. So everyone go out and get your flu shot this season and look out for your fellow neighbor as always everybody thank you for listening, be safe , uh , wearing your mask, wash your hands, social distance, and have a great week.

Speaker 1:

You've been listening to the city of plantation podcast. We strive to bring your accurate and timely information. Please continue to tune into our podcast episodes and also catch up with us on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and next door. If you have questions, send them to ask [email protected] and we will answer your questions directly. Thank you for taking the time to listen to our podcast and stay safe, everyone.