We Can Do It: Stop the Spread of Contagious Respiratory Illnesses

As we enter into the 2020-2021 flu season, Harbin Clinic encourages everyone over six months of age to get a flu vaccine and practice good health habits to stop the spread of contagious respiratory illnesses.

Receiving the flu vaccine plays an important role in protecting yourself, your family and your community from the flu virus. This season, it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine and help reduce the burden on local healthcare systems and hospitals responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness produced by influenza viruses that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs and can cause mild to severe illness. Flu viruses are spread by tiny air droplets released into the air when someone sick sneezes, coughs or speaks.

Rolling Up Our Sleeves to Fight Illness

“The best way to prevent the flu is to get a yearly shot vaccine,” says Dr. Brian McNiece of Harbin Clinic Family Medicine Rome. “Since flu virus strains change nearly every year, it’s important that people get a shot at the beginning of each season. We should all practice good hand hygiene, wear a mask, stay home when sick, and practice social distancing.”

Some individuals, such as older people, young children or those with underlying health conditions, can have serious complications from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over six months of age get the flu shot before the flu season begins in October and runs through March. Those who are high-risk, and their contacts and caregivers, should prioritize receiving the flu vaccine this season. For a full list of high-risk groups, visits the CDC’s website here.

This year’s flu season is a little more complicated as COVID-19 continues to spread in our local communities. Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses and COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

“Symptoms between the two viruses are similar, and it may be difficult to determine the difference between them based on symptoms alone,” says Infectious Disease & Travel Medicine physician Dr. John Hostetler. “Testing for COVID-19 may be required to help confirm a diagnosis.”

Harbin Clinic patients can get the flu vaccine from their primary care physician. Testing for COVID-19 is also available at Harbin Clinic Immediate Care.

Together, we can fight the spread of contagious respiratory illnesses. Here are some quick tips to stay healthy this flu season:

·     Get a flu shot

·     Wear a mask

·     Practice social distancing

·     Wash your hands

·     Stay home when sick

·     Talk to your doctor about the pneumonia vaccine

Harbin Clinic Flu Clinics


Family Medicine Rome: Tuesdays & Thursdays; 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Pediatrics Rome Davis Sabino: by appointment, Mondays & Fridays; begins at 7:00 a.m. 

Singh Internal Medicine: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Fridays; 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

When it comes to wearing your protective face covering, we wanted to provide a few helpful tips to make sure they’re as effective as possible:


·     Do wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with clean water and soap before touching your mask.

·     Do make sure the mask stretches over the nose and chin completely.

·     Do make sure the mask fits snuggly against your face.

·     Do avoid touching the front of the mask while wearing it.

·     Do remove the mask by the ear loops or ties at the back and avoid touching the front of the mask.

·     Do throw away disposable masks immediately. If you have a cloth mask, wash it immediately.

·     Do wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with clean water and soap after touching your mask.


·    Don't touch the front of the mask while wearing it.

·    Don't wear your face mask under your nose or mouth.

·    Don't let your face mask rest under your chin.

·    Don't let your face mask hang from one ear.

·    Don't wear a damaged mask.

·    Don't take a face mask off to speak with someone.

·    Don't put a mask on a child under 2 years old, anyone with difficulty breathing, or someone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.

·    Don't neglect to practice other preventative measures, such as social distancing, washing your hands regularly and staying home when you feel sick.