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Governor urges Virginians to get the flu vaccine

Governor urges Virginians to get the flu vaccine

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For a brief moment, let’s ignore the coronavirus pandemic and turn our attention to the flu. Now that it’s the middle of September, and children have headed back to school, it’s time to start thinking about ways to stay healthy, including getting vaccinated against the flu.

At a press conference Sept. 1, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who is also a physician, was optimistic about entering the fall season while also battling COVID-19.

“Perhaps a bit of a silver lining as we go into the fall, we are, I think, all paying more attention to keeping our hands clean, and wearing a face mask,” Northam said. “And if we can get our flu shots, which again I highly recommend all of you to do, then perhaps the flu season won’t be as impactful as it was in the past, but if we get a bad flu season on top of COVID-19, we’re going to have some real challenges.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, especially those who are 50 and older, anyone with underlying medical conditions, health care workers, women who are or will be pregnant and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The vaccine is updated annually to match the flu viruses that are circulating, according to the CDC.

Last year’s flu season reportedly was worse than the previous year with approximately 24,000 deaths. There were a reported 18 million medical visits and 410,000 hospitalizations, the CDC reported.

While no one knows what this year’s flu season might be like, it might be in our best interest--along with wearing a mask, regular hand washing and social distancing--to get vaccinated.

Also during that press conference, on what happened to be National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, Northam called on Virginians to get involved in working the polls on Election Day, which is Nov. 3.

“Many poll workers are elderly, and they are at high risk for COVID-19,” Northam said. “So we’re seeing a shortage of poll workers across our state. We need to make up for that shortfall with people who aren’t considered as high risk to keep polling places open and operating smoothly and you can help.”

The Virginia Department of Elections is partnering with the Virginia Department of Health to provide safe, clean polls for election workers and voters, Northam said.

If you’re a healthy, able-bodied person who wants to give back to your community, this is your golden opportunity to be a part of our democracy. To learn more about what an officer of election (poll worker) does, visit vote.virginia.gov.

Census deadline is fast-approaching

Sept. 30 is the deadline to complete the 2020 census.

Northam urged those who have not yet completed the 10-minute survey to do it before the deadline, adding that census takers would soon be visiting Virginia households.

Both the Rocky Mount and Westlake locations of the Franklin County Public Library will help anyone who needs it complete the census. Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Rocky Mount, and every Thursday from noon to 4 p.m., census representatives will make sure tablets are available for individuals to complete the census online privately and security.

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