Officials from Pennsylvania held a press conference at UPMC West Shore in Mechanicsburg to encourage people to get the flu vaccine.
According to a Lancaster County doctor, flu symptoms are beginning to emerge in central Pennsylvania.
“The CDC recommends people be vaccinated for the flu by the end of October. We are starting to see a little bit of flu activity this year, again, very different than last year. We don’t know how bad it will get, but it’s better to be vaccinated ahead of time,” said Dr. Joseph Kontra of Lancaster General Health.
According to Kontra, people who are getting vaccinated for the flu can also get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the two shots do not interfere with each other.
Concern About Possible ‘Twindemic’
Dr. Denise Johnson, Acting Physician General, and Ray Barishansky, Deputy Secretary for Health and Preparedness and Community Protection discussed flu season and the importance of getting vaccinated. During the press conference, Johnson and Barishansky were both immunized.
UPMC’s Dr. John Goldman expressed concern about a possible “twindemic” involving the flu and COVID-19.
Because of mask use and social distancing, fewer people got the flu last year. According to Goldman, more people may be vulnerable to the flu this year because they lack antibodies.
“Most of us weren’t exposed to the flu. We didn’t get kind of the immune boost we get from being exposed and actually getting sick, from having the flu virus circulate in our area,” he said.
He urged people to get the flu vaccine as well as the COVID-19 vaccine.
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“There is some worry that because people weren’t exposed to the flu last year, there will be a little bit less natural immunity, and as a result, there may be a more severe flu season this year,” said Dr. John Goldman, with UPMC.
According to Goldman, the typical flu season already places a strain on the healthcare system. When you add flu to the mix of COVID, they will be either at or beyond our capacity, he predicted.
“We’re anticipating that we’re going to see higher cases of influenza,” said Dr. Eugene Curley, with WellSpan Health.
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and the flu, according to Curley, will help to prevent people from becoming severely ill and taking up valuable hospital bed space in hospitals that are still treating COVID-19 patients.
Getting the flu shot in October is recommended by doctors to ensure that protection lasts throughout the entire season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that people can safely receive the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
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