The Wright Center Announces Flu Shot Reminder As the thick of the holiday season, one of the happiest, most festive times of the year approaches, so does peak flu season. The last few years have been dominated by COVID-19, which, though not nearly the public health threat it once was, continues to spread throughout the population via its newest strain. Couple that with the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and you have an unholy triumvirate of respiratory illnesses capable of wreaking significant havoc and ruining your yuletide cheer. Thankfully, there are vaccines to keep these viruses at bay. They’re safe and effective and can save you and your loved ones from getting sick or worse. National Influenza Vaccination Week, takes place next week, Dec. 4-8. Coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual observance serves as a helpful reminder to people that there’s still time to get a flu shot this season. This year’s slogan is the highly appropriate “A flu vaccine can take flu from wild to mild.” Typically, flu season begins around late September or early October (the ideal time to get vaccinated), then increasingly accelerates until it peaks between December and February. In some years, infections may occur as late as May. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu – and lessen its effects if you do contract it – is to get the annual flu shot, which is available to anyone ages 6 months and older. CDC studies have shown that flu vaccination reduces the risk of contracting the illness by 40 to 60 percent among the general public. Flu symptoms typically surface within a couple of days, and the virus shares many of the same effects as COVID-19, among them fever, chills, dry cough, body aches, headaches, stuffy/runny nose, shortness of breath, and fatigue. For specific vulnerable populations, vaccination is essential given their risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and even death. That list includes pregnant women, young children, adults ages 65 and older, and those with serious health conditions like cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, asthma, and kidney disease. In the case of kids, thousands are hospitalized every year with severe flu, according to the CDC. The Wright Center will now provide flu vaccinations at all Northeast Pennsylvania locations. To schedule an office visit that includes vaccination, call 570-230-0019 or go online to use the express scheduling system at TheWrightCenter.org. Meanwhile, many local pharmacies offer free flu shots to insured customers, and numerous local employers provide flu vaccinations as a free service to their workers. According to the CDC, all flu vaccines available in the U.S. this season are the quadrivalent variety, designed to protect against four different flu viruses. You want the holidays to be as joyous as possible without the threat of illness upending your plans. So, get the flu vaccine – it’s safe, effective, and one of the best gifts you can give yourself and others this season. Joshua Braddell, DNP, CRNP, FNP-C, a board-certified registered nurse practitioner, serves as medical director of The Wright Center for Community Health Mid Valley practice.