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County COVID numbers falling

By Tim Croft
The Star

The past week has provided some positive news on the COVID-19 front. 

And, then again, the temperatures are dropping which brings with it flu season and urgent reminders from the federal government down for folks to receive a flu shot. 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Sarah Hinds, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County. 

“This year, the CDC underscores that the flu vaccinee is more important than ever to protect yourself and the people around you, and to help reduce the strain on the health care systems responding to COVID-19.” 

On the COVID front, the county registered a positivity rate of just 4 percent last week, a marked improvement from the 20 percent of roughly six weeks ago. 

The target, Hinds said, was to get below 10 percent and then 5 percent. 

The state remains at a 13 percent positivity rate. 

The county has had just seven new cases this week, no clusters and one case is household-related. 

“Hopefully, the declining trend continues,” Hinds said. 

Overall, the county has seen 866 positive COVID-19 cases to date with 14 deaths and 52 hospitalizations. 

HInds also shared information coming from the FDOH regarding flu shots. 

Don’t Put Off Flu Vaccine This Year 

Summer is coming to a close, fall is just ahead, and while we look forward to a vaccine for Covid-19, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of flu vaccine. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Unlike Covid-19, most of us have general knowledge about flu season and the flu—a respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization or death. But like Covid-19, flu shares many of the same symptoms: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches and headache. 

Flu Vaccine is a Healthy Choice 

According to the CDC, during the 2016–2017 flu season, vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits and 85,000 hospitalizations. Every year, flu vaccine reduces severe illness for people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease. 

Flu vaccine protects pregnant women and even their newborns and infants for several months after birth. For children, flu vaccine can be lifesaving. Flu varies from mild to severe illness, but children often need medical care when sick with the flu. Children younger than 5, and children of any age with certain long-term health problems, are at higher risk for flu complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. 

Immune systems become weaker as we age—this puts people 65 years and older at a higher risk for serious flu complications. About 70 to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States are people 65 years and older. On average, this age group accounts for 50 to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations. 

Flu Vaccine has a Good Safety Record 

Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years. Each year, the CDC works with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards. 

Because protection from flu vaccine declines over time and flu viruses are constantly changing, yearly vaccination is best. Flu vaccine is evaluated every year and often updated to address the viruses that will be common during an upcoming flu season. 

Flu vaccines are made using killed flu viruses or without flu virus at all—it’s a myth that you can get flu from a flu vaccine. Some people who are vaccinated still catch the flu, but the vaccine serves as protection against severe symptoms and illness. 

The Healthy Habits that Stop the Spread of Covid-19, Stop the Spread of Flu 

Keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 minutes to help stop the spread of germs—if soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Regularly clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces in your home, school or office. And if you’re sick, contain those germs and stay home! 

Learn more

General flu information: 

People at high risk for 

Flu vaccine safety: