Flu season & COVID-19 pandemic set to collide

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(NBC) Health experts are worried about a “twindemic” this fall—the flu and COVID-19 striking communities at the same time. In addition to continuing to wear face masks and socially distancing, there’s one more critical step they’re urging Americans to take: getting a flu shot.

In Virginia, a drive-up vaccination event for back to school immunizations went smoothly. Erin Callas, nurse manager for Thomas Jefferson Health District, said, “We have it a little bit down to a science I think.”  The clinic and others are hoping to use a similar set-up for flu shots.

Health experts are strongly encouraging those six months and older to be immunized against influenza.

Hans Kluge World Health Organization is one of those who is sounding the alarm that flu season and COVID-19 could collide this fall with deadly results. “We need to protect our hospitals and health workforce already having to cope with COVID-19 from being overwhelmed,” he said.

The CDC is ordering an additional nine million adult doses of the flu vaccine and another two million pediatric doses.

This year, the vaccine protects against four strains of the flu three was previously standard.

And if you do still get sick, despite the vaccine, health experts say your illness will be less severe and you’re less likely to need hospitalization.

Infectious Disease Specialist Doctor William Schaffner recommends getting the vaccine between mid-September and early November. “We know influenza vaccine is not perfect, it’s a good vaccine but we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” he said. “We protect us, we protect people around us.”

In the past three flu seasons, less than half of U.S. adults received a vaccine. As many as 61,000 people died each year.

The current pandemic is making this year’s flu vaccine more vital than ever.

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