Although the last thing anyone seems to want to think about is another virus floating around in the air, the changing of the seasons from summer to fall means flu season is here once again. And, local health professionals are saying now is the time to get the annual flu shot.


"The last thing anyone wants is for someone to be fighting both the flu and COVID-19," Grayson County Health Department Director Amanda Ortez said last week. She said is entirely possible that if one's immune system is weakened by one ailment and then exposed to the other, one could end up in a very literal fight for their life.


The flu vaccine for this year is available at the Grayson County Health Department and at other area providers as well.


Ortez noted that should the waiting area be too full to allow for social distancing, people might be asked to return to their cars to fill out any needed paperwork and wait for their turn to be seen by health department personnel.


As for the COVID-19, Ortez said people should keep on doing the things they have been told to do since the pandemic like social distancing, washing their hands properly and often, wearing a mask when out and about at places like grocery stores, church, and social events like school sporting events.


"Those things will help protect one from spreading the flu as well," Ortez said.


Like COVID-19, even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and everyone who has the flu can spread it to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that an estimated 23,607 influenza-associated deaths and over 200,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations occur every year in the United States.


Getting a simple shot, Ortez said, can stop that flu threat.


The CDC said that the flu generally comes on suddenly and one generally starts to feel symptoms one to four days after infection. Those symptoms can include: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle or body aches, and tiredness (can be extreme).


Children can also experience ear infections, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.


And, as with COVID-19 and other viruses, some people who get infected will not have any symptoms at all. Those people can still spread those illnesses though.


As with COVID-19, those who are sick should stay home.


Ortez said anyone who is above the age of six months old should get a flu shot. Those over 65 years old should discuss which flu shot they should get with their health care provider because there is a stronger shot for the elderly should their doctor recommend it.


Additionally, those over 65 years old should discuss the pneumonia shot with their health care provider.


The CDC's website recommends the pneumonia shot for those who are 65 or older or those who are two years old to 64 years old who have certain medical conditions. It also recommends that anyone 19 through 64 years old who smokes should get that shot.


The shot costs $25 at the Grayson County Health Department, 515 N. Walnut in Sherman. They are available Monday through Friday by appointment or on a walk in basis. please call 903-893-0131 EXT 1235 or 1237 for more information.