San Antonio pediatrician urges people to get flu vaccine early to avoid ‘twin pandemic'

Goal is to reduce hospital system stress amid pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – For most of us, the flu shot has been an option every fall. In the year of the novel coronavirus, however, doctors are urging people to get their flu vaccine sooner than later.

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Dr. Robert Sanders, a pediatrician with University Health System, says you’ll need a flu shot this year to avoid a twin pandemic.

“In thinking about where we’re at with COVID-19 this year, anything that we can do to reduce the stress on our hospital systems is really important,” he said.

Hospital capacity at about 17% right now. Once the influenza season begins, that may amount to double the danger and double the demand. The good news is that all the work we’ve done to social distance will likely soften the start of the flu season this fall, doctors say. But when businesses and schools open more and more, it’s expected to intensify. Plus, there will be changes in how you get a flu shot. Instead of group clinics, as in years past, most pharmacies will urge you to get an appointment to ensure social distancing.

“I think I know for a fact that primary care clinics are still going to do them. CVS, Target, a lot of our local retailers, including HEB, are definitely going to be providing flu vaccine,” Sanders said.

This year, he said, the nasal spray version of the vaccine for children under 12, a live vaccine, will also be made available to prevent the danger of a twin pandemic.

“Remember that the flu vaccine prevents people from getting the flu or even getting very sick from the flu, but unfortunately, it will not protect people from COVID,” Sanders said.

Sanders is advising people to begin making your plans by scheduling their flu vaccine before the height of the flu season in October.

A vaccine for the novel coronavirus may be available in the winter.

To find a place to schedule your flu vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccinefinder.org website.

For more information on the upcoming flu season, click here.

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