Doctors stressing importance of flu shot, and getting it early

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INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana) — Flu season is right around the corner, and doctors are urging you to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“It’s going to be really important, because we don’t have a vaccine for Covid, for as many people as possible to get vaccinated for the regular seasonal influenza,” said Manager for Infection Prevention for Franciscan Health, Claire Roembke.

She says the flu and coronavirus are transferred in similar ways, and one of the biggest challenges is going to be getting people tested.

“We’re going to have a large population, probably, of people with respiratory symptoms, and sorting out whether or not they’re influenza vs. Covid.”

The flu and coronavirus have many similar symptoms, but Roembke says there are some distinguishing symptoms between the two to tell the difference. She says if you have a sudden change in taste or smell that it may be an indicator you have coronavirus instead of the flu. However, the problem is not everyone gets that symptom.

Another difference is that the seasonal flu’s symptoms begin showing up one to four days after being exposed, while coronavirus takes two to fourteen days.

“The best way they’re going to know whether or not they’re dealing with Covid or whether or not they’re dealing with seasonal flu is going to be testing.”

However, she says it is possible to have both the flu and coroanvirus at the same time, and if you have either the best idea is to stay home.

The second challenge is going to be the hospitals potentially filling up. Roembke says we will probably see the number of hospital beds being used increase over the next several months as we go into the late fall and early winter.

“We always are full even during a regular seasonal flu,” she said. “Most of us have expanded our bed capacity, but I’m sure that it is going to be challenging.”

The flu also changes and mutates every season, meaning doctors never quite know exactly what combination of flu they’ll have for the season until it gets here, which is why vaccinations play a key role.

“No matter where you’re going, you can always wear a mask, make sure you wash your hands, social distance from the group in front of you, etc.” said Roembke.

She stressed that if people went out and got vaccinated for the flu season and continued to work to reduce the spread the impact of flu season during the pandemic could be reduced to a dull roar.