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Seasonal flu set to meet COVID-19 as health officials urge vaccinations

Posted at 1:06 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 18:10:41-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As if COVID-19 hasn't been enough, it's about to be met head-on by the seasonal flu.

"It is more important than ever to get your flu vaccine," said Kevin Hall, of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

Hall noted that flu and coronavirus symptoms could mimic one another, and in both cases, people need to remain at home if feeling symptomatic.

"Those are two terrible illnesses; both can cause fatalities,” he said. “We don't want people to get sick with either. We don't want people getting sick with both."

Hall said getting both viruses would likely be uncommon, but he did indicate some findings from January that showed it's possible.

As we've come to learn, the flu vaccine is not an impenetrable defense against the virus, but Hall said it does offer protection in other forms.

"Weaker symptoms, and not being sick for nearly as long," he said. "The flu can wipe you out for two weeks, so anything you can do to shorten that amount of time is fantastic."

Hall said the number of seasonal flu cases reported usually falls short of the actual number of people who contract the flu every year. Often, doctors won't test for flu because they diagnose based on symptoms.

As Hall stressed the importance of being vaccinated this season, he alluded to another group of people who’d likely benefit greatly from mass vaccinations by the public.

"It is to protect hospitals and medical professionals from becoming overwhelmed," he said.

But, this year, a vaccine may not be our only hope. We might be able to limit the spread of the flu through a byproduct of something we're already doing.

"Because we're wearing our masks, anyhow, for COVID-19, yes, that's going to be great to help stop the spread of the flu," Hall said.

But nothing supersedes the benefit of getting your flu shot. It is highly recommended by the health department for anyone more than 6 months old.

"It's not too soon to be talking about the flu (season). Get your shot. Don't delay, get it as soon as you feel ready for it," Hall said.