The Missoula City-County Health Department announced this week that several joint flu and COVID refresher clinics are planned in communities outside of Missoula.
We spoke to the director of the Health Services Division, Sara Heineman, about the upcoming vaccination clinics.
“So we’re planning a series of community flu and COVID clinics starting this week in some of our more rural Missoula County communities,” Heineman began. “We’ll be in Bonner and Clinton this week and then Seeley (Lake) and Frenchtown next week. We will be in Lolo the first week of October and then do a larger community clinic here (in Missoula at the Election Center) the second week of October.”
Heineman described the new COVID booster vaccine to be used in clinics.
“The COVID Booster, the new bivalent booster, is designed to be more effective against the currently circulating Omicron variants and to give you better protection against the currently circulating COVID virus,” she said. “Anyone who has completed their primary series and is 12 years of age or older is eligible to receive this bivalent COVID booster with a two-month interval between the completion of their primary series or last COVID booster and receipt of that bivalent booster.”
We asked if it was necessary to get both vaccinations. Heineman said the two viruses are completely different.
“They’re two completely different viruses, and so the COVID vaccine and COVID disease aren’t going to protect you from influenza, so the flu vaccine is specific to that influenza virus,” she said.
Heineman provided the up-to-date statistics on both the flu and COVID.
“During the 2019-2020 flu season, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 38 million US citizens were affected by the flu,” she said. “400,000 people were hospitalized and 22,000 flu deaths occurred. More than 1 million U.S. citizens have died from the virus since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC, and despite recent COVID-19 strains, causing less serious illnesses in many, COVID-19 remains a leading cause of death in our country and leads to significantly more deaths than the flu, as Omicron variants keep popping up. The updated COVID-19 Booster is an important tool to reduce the worst outcomes of COVID 19, including serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths.”
We asked the Missoula City-County Health Department if both vaccinations could be done on the same day in the same arm. Public information officer Hayley Devlin said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised that it was okay to get both shots together in the same arm.
Answers to 25 frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines
Vaccinations against COVID-19 began in the United States on December 14, 2020. The rapid rollout came just over a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed at which vaccines have been developed has also had a lot of people with many questions. The questions range from practical – how do I get vaccinated? – to scientific ones – how do these vaccines even work?
Read on for answers to 25 frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines.