Cold and flu (commonly referred to as the influenza) season are officially here, peaking in the U.S. between December and February. If you haven’t had a flu vaccination yet, it’s not too late to get one. But if you did get vaccinated, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, notes Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer Jay Woody, M.D., of Legacy ER & Urgent Care, one of the nation’s first hybrid health care models offering both urgent care and emergency room treatment options under one roof.
“Even if you’ve had the flu vaccine this season, it’s possible to become ill with a strain of flu that isn’t covered,” Woody explains. “But that shouldn’t stop one from trying to protect themselves every year. The majority of people who get flu shots won’t get the flu that season.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine annually for everyone six months and older. But that’s just the first step. Take preventative steps such as staying away from people who are ill and washing your hands regularly. Touching doorknobs, faucet handles and other everyday objects we come in contact with, as well as shaking hands or eating and drinking after someone, are common ways to spread germs. Don’t go to work if you’re ill or send your children to school or day care.
Legacy ER & Urgent Care still has the flu vaccine available and physicians are on staff to treat you if you become ill. People at high risk, especially, should seek treatment – children younger than two years, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. Influenza antiviral drugs are prescribed.
At other urgent care facilities, patients typically have a 2 to 3 hour wait time until they can see a doctor, even with call ahead scheduling. At Legacy ER & Urgent Care, the average wait time is less than eight minutes, with most patients being seen, treated and released in less than one hour. This is particularly helpful when time is scarce for scheduling an appointment with your regular physician or you’re trying to get the flu vaccine.
How do you know whether you have a cold or the flu? The onset of symptoms is the first clue. A cold comes on gradually, while the flu hits quickly. Fever – typically lasting 3-4 days, aches and chills are the primary symptoms of the flu, whereas a cold is marked by sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat. You may experience chest discomfort and a cough with both, in varying severity. A headache and fatigue or weakness are common with the flu but rare with a cold.
“At Legacy ER & Urgent Care, we’re here when you need us,” Woody said. “Illness doesn’t strike when it’s convenient, during a doctor’s office hours. We have board certified medical doctors on staff around the clock. There is no need to put off getting the flu vaccine.”
Legacy ER & Urgent Care’s hybrid model (both a free standing emergency room and urgent care center), allows patients to only pay for the care they need. Billing is always based on whether a condition was an urgent care visit (more than 70 percent fall into this category) or an emergency. Patients won’t be billed for an emergency, no matter what time of day, unless they actually receive emergency care.
Urgent care hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and emergency room services are accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. Online check-in is available and walk-ins are welcomed.