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Doctors urge flu shots to avoid ‘twindemic’

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 5:19 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - As the country deals with record numbers of COVID cases, flu season is here. And doctors are starting to see people get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, calling it a “twindemic.” Our Kelly O’Brien explains why that’s adding extra urgency to the call for flu shots

“Every year, always get a flu shot,” said Sarah Fox of Beekmantown.

Fox says she never goes a flu season without her flu shot

“It’s the best way to help protect yourself,” she said.

She already got her shot as did many other people in the region.

“We can’t keep it in our office long enough,” said Dr. Ashley Burnotas with the Hudson Headwaters Health Network.

Burnotas says they are seeing an increase in flu shots this year and they are encouraging anyone over 6 months old to get one.

“COVID season and the flu season coincide and the symptoms are so similar that it’s important to cover yourself against the flu because we don’t have a vaccine for COVID just yet,” Burnotas said.

While the flu shot can’t stop you from getting COVID, it can prevent a “twindemic,” which is when someone gets COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

“You can definitely get the flu and COVID at the same time. They are two different viruses,” Burnotas said.

There are few diagnosed cases of getting both viruses but Burnotas says symptoms would likely be severe.

“Just based on medical knowledge, a combination of flu and COVID would have a severe outcome and would most likely lead to hospitalization,” she said.

Burnotas says that more people getting a flu shot can prevent flu hospitalizations, freeing up space for COVID patients.

“It would be very difficult on our health care systems to have flu patients also,” Burnotas said.

Back to Fox, she encourages those in the community to take a few minutes to protect themselves and others.

“I think any reason to try and stay healthy is a good reason,” Fox said. “If we can’t protect ourself with a COVID shot, why not get a flu shot? Keep ourselves out of the doctors, the hospital and back in school, to work where we belong.”

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