Flu season may be the last thing on people’s minds as the COVID-19 pandemic continues but it is time to start preparing. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke to the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Loma Linda University Health about why the flu vaccine needs to be a priority for everyone this year.
Dr. Jennifer Veltman says people should think of the flu vaccine like groceries or any other essential item. It is worth a trip outside the home even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we kind of lower our guard with the influenza and don’t get vaccinated then we’ll risk having a really severe outbreak of influenza in combination with COVID this flu season,” said Veltman.
And a widespread flu outbreak could stretch hospital resources dangerously thin. Hospitals only have so many beds, ventilators and medical staff to treat both flu and COVID-19 patients.
“Influenza is a deadly virus as well and it has many of the same symptoms as COVID, and with influenza we do have some protective measures we can take to protect ourselves from that," said Veltman. "So, take advantage of the things we have available that have already been discovered as we try to continue to try to discover new things to fight against COVID.”
Adults and children six months and older should get the flu vaccine in September or October. Even though most kids are not in the classroom it is still a good idea to get them vaccinated since they are higher risk for serious flu symptoms. The vaccine is usually available at doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies and even some grocery stores.