FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials have recently been urging Kentuckians to be vaccinated for the flu this fall and has put his money where his mouth is.
The Governor, his wife Britainy, and their two children, 11-year-old Will and 10-year-old Lila, were all vaccinated on Thursday. They were joined by Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, and Virginia Moore, the American Sign Language Interpreter seen during the Governor’s afternoon press briefings.
“Britainy and I, and our kids, receive a flu shot each year at this time, because we know it is the single most effective way to prevent the flu,” Beshear said. “The availability and affordability of the vaccine make it easier than ever to protect yourself and your family, which is especially important this year as we continue to battle COVID-19.”
The Governor emphasized the importance of getting a flu shot this year to blunt the potential for what the medical community fears could be a “twindemic” if seasonal flu outbreaks overwhelm health care systems already stretched thin by COVID-19.
First Lady Beshear added: “I sincerely encourage parents to get their school-age children vaccinated. Doing so will help reduce the spread of the virus. No time is a good time to be sick, but right now is an especially bad time. Kentuckians are making sacrifices to safely return to the classroom and be able to safely participate in more family-oriented and social events, and the flu could block the progress we’ve worked so hard for.”
The Lt. Governor stated, “During this time of uncertainty, there’s one thing we know for sure: vaccines work. We’ve all had to become more flexible about a lot of things during this pandemic but protecting our families from preventable diseases means contacting a provider about getting back on schedule with our immunizations.”
Virginia Moore said, “The injection didn’t hurt, not one bit.”
Though flu shots do not prevent COVID-19, Dr. Stack said, they do reduce the number of people who get the flu and need hospitalization, which is important because dozens of Kentuckians end up in the hospital every year because of the flu.
“Also, if you get sick with the flu and have to go to the doctor or hospital, it may not be possible to quickly determine that you have the flu, not COVID-19, which could lead to extra uncertainty and testing,” Dr. Stack noted.
“Both influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses, and they have similar symptoms,” said Dr. Stack. “Most people who get sick from the flu will have mild symptoms that will go away within a couple of weeks, but people at high risk can end up in the hospital — and even die.”
According to stack, a person can get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. “These are different viruses and different illnesses. A double infection is possible in the same patient. Likewise, contracting one disease does not make you immune to the other.”
Flu shots are a good way to prevent influenza, even though it takes several weeks to develop protection, but there is still no vaccine for COVID-19, Stack said.