SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the fall, doctors are preparing for the pandemic to mix with flu season.
For months people have been taking safety precautions to protect against COVID-19. Now, doctors are hoping you’ll take another precaution– getting vaccinated against influenza.
“Having COVID-19 with the influenza virus can be very detrimental, not only to yourself, but to health care in general, overloading the system, as well as high risk to get other people sick,” Sanford Health Dr. Joseph Mowery said.
Mowery says both the nasal spray and shot are available for patients, though he recommends patients with compromised immune systems avoid the nasal spray.
“We typically like to give it in October. You’re more than welcome to come in now and get it. The reason why we typically were recommending October is we feel that the vaccine lasts about six months. And so that would cover you for the entire flu season,” Mowery said.
With COVID-19 and influenza presenting with similar symptoms, how will doctors decide which test a patient needs?
“That’s a great question. And it’s going to be very difficult. The symptoms are almost identically similar. We would have to probably do it on exposure history. They are in the works of making a quadrivalent test and that tests for influenza A, influenza B as well as RSV and COVID-19,” Mowery said.
It’s not just testing that could present health care workers with challenges, but it could overwhelm hospitals.
“That is a real world possibility. And that certainly has us on edge and that’s why we are encouraging everyone to get their flu shots, to hopefully mitigate that and prevent that,” Mowery said.
Mowery is also hoping to provide clarity to people who avoid the influenza vaccine for fear of getting sick.
“I would like to remind everyone that the flu shot does not make you sick. It might make you feel run down or kind of tired or fatigued. But it is a, a attenuated virus and so therefore it cannot actually cause symptoms of the flu in you,” Mowery said.
For more information on this year’s flu vaccine, click here.