Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health Addresses COVID-19, Flu Season and Staffing Shortages

Edward J. Merrens, M.D., chief clinical officer at D-HH

Photo Credit: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health

As U.S. health officials continue to expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health is sharing the latest science available with its communities and encouraging people to get vaccinated at any of the health system’s numerous locations in New Hampshire and Vermont.

The health system also wants people to know that it’s okay to get the COVID-19 vaccine — and for many a booster — at the same time they get their flu shot.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be administered at the same time. Federal health authorities had initially advised that the COVID-19 vaccines be given separately “out of an abundance of caution.” But with the vast experience and understanding of the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, health experts now say there is no reason to space out the shots.

Getting both vaccines at once is not only convenient for patients, it also may relieve pressures brought on by the current workforce shortages hitting the field.

In a recent health care video, Edward J. Merrens, M.D., chief clinical officer at D-HH, acknowledges the staffing shortages are real and reassures people that the health system is steadfastly dedicated to providing safe care to all patients throughout these difficult times. He shares that they are working hard to identify “new and novel ways” to recruit new staff and retain talent.

He also stresses that as new challenges arise during this pandemic, people need to get vaccinated. “The most important thing you can do right now is to ensure you’re vaccinated against COVID-19. The evidence that we have is that the vaccines are highly effective and safe,” said Merrens.

Meantime, D-HH says it is well stocked with both COVID-19 and influenza shots and ready to give both together at most of its locations. And it will continue to provide opportunities for vaccine education and counseling for people who are struggling with the decision to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are free, and flu shots are covered by most health plans and typically available for free to those who aren’t insured.

For more information on Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s efforts to vaccinate more people, visit: https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/covid19/booster-shots.