Doctors urge flu shot to reduce strain on hospitals battling COVID-19

Updated: Sep. 24, 2020 at 6:51 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The clock is ticking on the best time to get a flu shot before the virus peaks this winter.

Doctors said getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever, to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems, as they continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doctors at UAB said we are rapidly approaching one of their busiest times of the year with flu season coming.

But unlike years past, we’re also dealing with the possibility of a “Twindemic.”

“Part of the reason why we’re encouraging people to get vaccinated and to take these precautions is because we’re not sure what flu and COVID could look like together,” said UAB’s Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Dr. Erin DeLaney.

Doctors are getting a glimpse into what this year’s flu season will be like, taking cues from the Southern hemisphere.

“We do know places where the flu season is already occurring they are have a lighter flu year most likely due to the fact that there are these preventative measures already in effect so…because people are wearing masks they are practicing social distancing,” Dr. DeLaney said.

But how can you distinguish the flu from COVID-19? Doctors said many of the symptoms mimic each other. But a distinct loss in your sense of smell and taste can be a good indication you have COVID…not the flu.

“We will most likely have to rely on testing and then just…kind of voluntary quarantining honestly if you’re not able to get tested,” Dr. DeLaney said.

Doctors said they don’t anticipate a shortage in flu vaccine this year.

In fact, as many as 198 million doses of influenza vaccine are expected this year.

They recommend that anyone over the age of 6 months old should get it by then end of October.

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