Get vaccinated to avoid flu and COVID-19 'double whammy', doctors say

Experts worry the two diseases could overwhelm the health care system and create a new shortage of hospital beds and personal protective equipment.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As health care providers work to develop a safe and effective vaccine to fight COVID-19, Fresno County is ramping up its efforts to administer as many flu shots as possible this season.

"It's really an important time for increased flu vaccinations out in our community. So what we do is we partner with a lot of community-based clinics out in the rural areas and metropolitan areas and we provide free flu vaccine to them," said Fresno County Director of Community Health Joe Prado.

While the vaccine cannot prevent all cases of the flu, health officials say it is the best defense against the disease and the potential serious complications that can develop like pneumonia or even death.

It takes about two weeks for protection to take shape after getting the flu shot, but lasts several months to a year.

"It's really important that people right now get a flu vaccine with their normal primary care physician, doctor's offices, pharmacies, there's a lot of places where you can get a flu vaccine. You don't have to depend on going to the health department clinic site visit," said Prado.

Kaiser Permanente in Fresno will begin flu vaccinations for members on September 28th.

Medical professionals are encouraging all residents over the age of 6 months to get the shot this year to reduce flu severity and prevent hospitalizations - especially while the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Experts worry the two diseases could overwhelm the health care system and create a new shortage of hospital beds and personal protective equipment.

"If you could imagine going into this flu season without the flu shot, there's a potential you could get the flu illness and on top of that, get COVID-19, which could be a real double whammy for yourself," said Dr. Jesus Rodriguez.

While the flu shot can't be used to battle COVID-19, Dr. Jesus Rodriguez of Kaiser says the flu vaccine provides an extra layer of protection to keep your immune system in a healthy condition.

"If you get the flu, that's going to debilitate you and the more debilitated you are the easier it is for you to get other infections such as COVID-19."
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