The Missoula City-County Health Department announced this week that several joint flu and COVID booster clinics have been scheduled in communities outside Missoula.

We spoke to the Director of the Health Services Division Sara Heineman about the upcoming vaccination clinics.

“So, we are planning for a number of community flu and COVID clinics that are kicking off this week in some of our more rural communities in Missoula County,” began Heineman. “We'll be in Bonner and Clinton this week and then in Seeley (Lake) and Frenchtown next week. We'll be in Lolo the first week of October and then we'll do a bigger community clinic based here (in Missoula at the Elections Center) in the second week in October.”

Heineman described the new COVID booster vaccine that will be used in the clinics.

“The COVID Booster, the new Bivalant booster was created to be more effective against the current circulating Omicron variants and so it gives you a better protection for the current COVID virus that's circulating now,” she said. “For anyone who has completed their primary series and is 12 years or older would be eligible to get that Bivalant COVID booster with a two-month interval between their finishing their primary series or their last COVID booster and when they get this Bivalant booster.”

We asked if it was necessary to get both vaccinations. Heineman said the two viruses are completely different.

“They're two completely different viruses and so COVID vaccine and COVID disease aren't going to protect you against influenza so the flu vaccine is specific to that influenza virus,” she said.

Heineman provided the current statistics for both the flu and for COVID.

“During the 2019-2020 flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 38 million US residents experienced flu,” she said. “400,000 people were hospitalized and 22,000 flu deaths occurred. Since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, more than 1 million US residents have died from the virus according to the CDC, and despite recent COVID-19 strains, causing less severe illness in many COVID-19 remains one of the leading causes of death in our country and results in significantly more deaths than the flu as Omicron variants keep emerging. The updated COVID-19 booster is an important tool to reduce the worst outcomes of COVID 19 including severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”

We asked the Missoula City-County Health Department if both vaccinations could be received the same day in the same arm. Public Information Officer Hayley Devlin said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that it was fine to get both shots together in the same arm.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

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