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Health experts fear simultaneous outbreaks of COVID-19 and flu

flu shot

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Health experts are advising people to get the flu vaccine early in 2020.

They don’t know how severe this flu season will be, but many doctors are preparing for the worst.

As winter and fall approach, hospital officials fear we may have what some are referring to as a “twindemic," which would be an outbreak of COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

Experts say even the mildest flu season would be detrimental to hospitals dealing with COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already ordered 9.3 million doses of the flu vaccine. Usually, they only order about 500,000.

Experts say getting the flu vaccine is a huge line of defense for your immune system, especially in the event you contract COVID-19.

Still, many people have been hesitant to go to the doctor’s office amid the pandemic.

An epidemiologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs says acting on that fear could be detrimental.

“Just thinking of the viruses on their own ... having both at the same time would be pretty severe on your respiratory tract,” says Sara Saporta-Keating, an epidemiologist at Children's Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs. "The pros outweigh the cons in terms of risk for going to get your flu vaccine - so long as you’re following those social distancing and hand-hygiene measures.”

Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are also offering the flu vaccine.

USA Today reports that pharmacists will check temperatures, screen for other symptoms, and wear face shields for the first time ever this year while giving shots.

Patients will have to wear a face mask, as well, and are encouraged to schedule an appointment ahead of time.

Saporta-Keating says you can still get the flu after getting vaccinated, but the majority of people who get the flu vaccine have much milder symptoms.

There is still no definitive date as to when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the U.S. In a recent poll from the Marist Poll of Public Opinion - 35% of Americans say even when a vaccine is ready, they will not get it.

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Mia Villanueva

Mia is a weekday reporter for Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Mia here.


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