West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor and her husband both received flu shots Tuesday at the Hartford HealthCare-Go Health Urgent Care Clinic in Bishops Corner.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor is encouraging residents to follow the advice of health experts and get their flu shots this year, and she put her arm where her mouth is when she publicly received her own vaccination at the Hartford HealthCare-Go Health Urgent Care Clinic in Bishops Corner on Tuesday morning.
The mayor and her husband, Michael Cantor, both participated in Hartford HealthCare’s new statewide campaign: “It’s good for you, CT—Get your flu shot!”
The process at the clinic, located at 336 North Main St., was simple, fast, and virtually painless. Cantor answered a few questions on a form, had her temperature checked, and didn’t even flinch when Dr. Eric Walsh, medical director for Hartford Healthcare- Go Health administered the vaccine.
“If there was ever a year when the flu vaccine was an important one it’s this one,” Walsh said Tuesday.
“We’re facing what we’re calling now a ‘twin-demic.’ Annually, the flu can kill over 30,000 people all by itself and as we know, the coronavirus has already taken 200,000 lives in the United States. If those two things collide in the wrong way and people aren’t careful in general, with all the things we’ve been talking about, we could have a huge rise in the number of cases of both and hospitals could be overwhelmed.”
Walsh said if more people receive the flu vaccine, it will result in fewer people with symptoms. “If less people have symptoms, we’ll have less people going to hospitals or even centers like this to get tested.”
In addition, Walsh said the medical community hasn’t seen what might happen if people become infected with both seasonal influenza and COVID-19 at the same time. “We really are advising, of all years, this is the year to get a flu vaccine to reduce the risk that you have of any of these symptoms that might cause some serious problems.”
Walsh said the symptoms of both viruses are very similar “whole body viruses” even though they are two different families of viruses. “With coronavirus you see some unique things, some of the cardiac things that we’ve seen, specifically the loss of smell and taste, and some of the neurological finds.” It’s a bit more of an advanced disease, and for many, the outcomes have been much worse.
If you get sick, the safest thing is to get tested, Walsh said. Go Health, which has 18 locations in Connecticut, offers both the PCR and the molecular (rapid) COVID-19 test, both of which are in high demand.
“If you have symptoms, stay home, stay away from others,” Walsh said, adding that it’s also good to get your Vitamin D because there is a correlation between low levels of Vitamin D and the severity of coronavirus reaction. “And just take good care of yourself … this is the year to be as healthy as possible.”
“So much of what we are doing, wearing masks and hand washing, does keep us protected, but adding the flu shot to that will really help protect this community.” She commended Hartford HealthCare for pushing that message.
“It doesn’t even hurt. It’s so quick,” Cantor said.
Cantor, whose youngest son has a heart condition, said she gets a flu shot every year, and has been doing so for many years.
“By taking care of yourself you’re taking care of others,” she added. “We’re all in this together. Protect our healthcare professionals, protect our first responders, protect our neighbors, protect our teachers, protect your moms, dads, brothers, sisters. It’s really important.”
Aimee Krauss, director of the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) those who are at high risk for flu complications are also at higher risk from COVID-19, and vaccination is important to protect everyone.
“Flu vaccinations are essential,” Krauss told We-Ha.com. “We want to reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses. Public health wants to lessen the burden on our health care systems such as hospitals.”
The Health District hosted a drive-thru flu clinic in Bloomfield last weekend and will have an event in West Hartford this Saturday. While all appointment slots are already full, future clinics will be scheduled.
Doctors offices have supplies of the flu shot available, and many drug stores are offering free immunizations.
Krauss also stressed the need to remain diligent about wearing a mask and hand washing, both of which are important tools in remaining healthy.
West Hartford has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past several weeks, with 32 cases reported in the past week.
“Our uptick in cases are from social gatherings, workplace settings,” Krauss said. “Some people might feel better and return to work, however they are still infectious.
“I can’t stress enough if you’re sick, please stay home. If we ask you to quarantine for 14 days please do so. It protects our community and our families,” said Krauss.
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