When we talk about the coronavirus, it isn’t a simple matter of black-and-white. COVID-19 is one big gray area.

There is no real light at the end of this outbreak tunnel, only glimmers of hope here and there. But today a new complication is raising the anxiety level.

Flu season is almost here, and many typical influenza symptoms resemble symptoms of the coronavirus. How will you know if your cough heralds a case of the flu or something more?

Health experts here and across the state are vexed by that question. The media even invented a clever name for this new threat, the “twin-demic.”

There is no definitive answer that your cough means it’s the flu or COVID. Unfortunately, an easy answer at this point would be guesswork rather than fact.

The flu and COVID-19 are respiratory viruses. Symptoms for both can include cough, fever, chills, difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain or headache.

One distinction is that COVID sometimes brings the trademark loss of taste and smell. This is a good indicator that you have COVID, not the flu. But the flu can produce the same effect, so judging an illness by a symptom is not foolproof.

Local health departments stress one resource available to deal with both, and that is the flu shot.

Faced with another enemy that is just as mendacious, contagious and potentially deadly as COVID-19, we strongly encourage every man, woman and child in Greene and Columbia counties to get inoculated against the flu.

Stores with pharmacies including CVS, Walgreens, Price Chopper, Walmart, Hannaford, Rite-Aid and Shop-Rite give flu shots. So do clinics.

Columbia County will hold drive-thru clinics Wednesday from 9-11 a.m., at the Roe Jan Library in Hillsdale; on Sept. 30, from 9-11 a.m., at the Chatham Fairgrounds; on Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson; on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 9-11 a.m., at Palatine Park in Germantown; on Oct. 17, from 9-11 a.m., at Ichabod Crane Central School in Valatie; and Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the New Lebanon Town Hall.

Anyone wanting a flu shot must preregister on the Columbia County Health Department website or by calling 518-828-3358, ext. 1310. People who are uninsured or underinsured may be eligible for a free flu shot. One flu shot costs $42.

Columbia County is also hosting a walk-up COVID-19 testing site Sept. 22 and Sept. 29, from 9-11 a.m., at the former John L. Edwards Elementary School in Hudson. Preregistration is not required.

Greene County is holding drive-thru clinics from 9:30 a.m. to noon Tuesday at Riverside Park in Coxsackie; Thursday at the Windham Wastewater Treatment Plant; Sept. 29, at Dutchman’s Landing in Catskill; and Oct. 1, at Angelo Canna Town Park in Cairo. Preregistration is required by calling 518-719-3600 and selecting option No. 4. The cost is $51 for people ages 18-64, and $80 for people over 65.

Getting a flu shot is quick, painless and covered by most insurance carriers.

All of us living in Columbia and Greene counties have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. Get a flu shot this season.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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