Health professionals urging people to get flu shot to avoid COVID-19 overlaps

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Fall is upon us which means flu season is fast approaching. As we continue to deal with COVID-19, health professionals are saying it’s important that people get their flu shots. The Bay County Department of Health explains the two illnesses are very similar so taking the proper precautions is necessary.

“In our area, we typically see it starting in October to February but flu can happen at any time,” said Heather Kretzer, the spokesperson for the Bay County Department of Health.

With a pandemic at play this year, the Department of Health says protecting your first line of defense is more important now than ever.

“If we have a lot of people who are contracting the flu and a lot of people who are contracting COVID-19, it could overburden the hospital system and the medical system,” said Kretzer.

The CDC estimates that between 39 and 56 million people contracted influenza last flu season. This year, health experts worry about the flu and COVID-19 overlapping.

“If you contract the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, your potential health outcomes could be poorer than if you had one or the other,” said Kretzer.

The Department of Health says both illnesses present very similar symptoms so it’s important to not overlook them.

“Always the first call, if you have any concerns is to call your provider. Don’t rely on a COVID-19 test to tell you what’s going on with you,” said Kretzer.

The Bay County Department of Health has yet to see any predictions for this year’s flu season. But they hope the precautions in place now help us in the long run.

“We continue to recommend wearing of the masks in public when you can’t social distance, washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol when you can’t do that,” said Kretzer.

CVS and Walgreens are currently administering flu shots. The Bay County Department of Health is hoping to begin giving them soon.

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