COVID TALK … Dr. Beth Lehman, D.O., daughter of Rotarian Keith Lehman who arranged the program, shared a simple message with Rotarians on Friday: Vaccines provide excellent protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death against infectious diseases and there’s really no good medical reason for not getting that protection. A 2006 Archbold High School graduate, Dr. Lehman works for the Cleveland Clinic’s infectious disease department. (PHOTO PROVIDED)
Dr. Beth Lehman, who works in the Cleveland Clinic’s infectious disease department, shared a basic message with Rotarians — regardless of the infectious disease, persons who get vaccinated (and boosted in the case of COVID and its variants) have a much greater likelihood of avoiding serious illness, hospitalization and death than their unvaccinated peers.
She explained that vaccinations against respiratory illnesses such as the flu and COVID don’t mean you’re protected from getting the illness, but if you are exposed to the virus, then the vaccine will help your body put up a stronger defense.
This is particularly true of the flu as the makers of the flu vaccine have to make a best guess each year well before flu season begins which strain will be the dominant one that year.
The vaccine that they develop is tailored to be most effective against that strain.
Some years, the vaccine isn’t as effective if a different strain becomes dominant, yet getting the vaccine still lessens its impact.
Flu season is about six months long with December through February being the months when people are most likely to be exposed to the virus.
That’s why Dr. Lehman suggested that most people should wait until mid to late October to get their flu shot so it is strongest during those months.
She added that persons 65 and older should request the high dose flu vaccine, and they may want to get their shot a little earlier as the high dose vaccine remains effective for the full six months.
Generally, persons younger than 65 are not eligible to receive the high dose vaccine.
According to the CDC up to 41 million persons will come down with the flu every year.
The flu is most serious for older persons. And, on average, the flu causes 12,000 to 52,000 deaths a year.
Dr. Lehman also addressed COVID, which she said isn’t going away. About half of Fulton County residents are fully vaccinated.
Again, she noted that unvaccinated persons are at a higher risk of serious illness than those who are vaccinated and even persons who have had COVID but not vaccinated are at a higher risk of serious complications should they become reinfected.
She urged employers to encourage workers who come down with any infectious illness to stay home and away from work for at least five days while they are most likely to be at risk of passing the infection on to other employees.