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Health District: Prepare for flu season

By Kristen Hackbarth

Flu season is starting now and it’s time to get the flu vaccine, according to Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick. He said today during a health district media briefing that community members should act early to get both the flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines to protect against the viruses.

“We are expecting the flu season to be more severe this season,” Dick said. “We have had sort of a hiatus from flu for the past several years with the precautions that we were taking for COVID-19 – the mask wearing, the social distancing.”

He said that based on flu activity in the southern hemisphere, this year’s flu season in the U.S. will be more serious. 

Dick added that the symptoms for COVID-19 and the flu are very similar, making it a challenge to determine which virus a person is infected with if they aren’t tested. 

“People really need to get a test to determine whether they have one or the other,” he said. “And then also reminding people whether they have symptoms of COVID or the flu…it’s important not to spread the disease to other people and to stay home and isolate and recover.”

While flu season is just starting, Dick said we’re in a new phase for COVID-19. Hospitalization numbers remain low, and COVID isn’t putting a stress on the healthcare system like it had before. 

Fewer positive COVID-19 test results are being reported to the Washoe County Health District as well. The community’s seven-day moving average is at about 25 new cases per day, but Dick stressed that those are only the positive cases reported to the health district. 

People testing positive with home test kits are most of the time not reporting those positive cases to health officials.

The flu vaccine will be available at the WCHD Immunization Clinic as of Oct. 3, but is already available at area pharmacies.

A COVID-19 vaccine event tomorrow (Thursday) from 4-6 p.m. at Reno-Sparks Convention Center is nearly full with appointments, but a second vaccination event is scheduled for Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club on Foster Drive from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A combo flu/COVID drive-through vaccine event is also planned for Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center at 1350 N. Wells Ave. for people ages 5 and older. Appointments here.

Both the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccines are also widely available at pharmacies and other healthcare providers. 

Monkeypox update

WCHD reported the 18th case of monkeypox in the community in a male in his 40s. 

Dick said the community’s wastewater surveillance research has also detected monkeypox in the sewer system. That research was used during the pandemic to monitor COVID-19 spread in the community and predict potential surges in the virus. 

The health district will offer two more monkeypox vaccine events for those who are eligible. The first is Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. at Our Center located at 1745 S. Wells Ave. and the second is Oct. 11 at Faces NV at 235 W. Second St.

More information on monkeypox, including vaccine eligibility, is available here.

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