With the continued presence of COVID-19, getting a flu shot is “more important than ever,” according to James Partin, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Hill Country Memorial.
“People need to remember there is a significant number of worldwide deaths from influenza every year,” Partin said. “So we have to deal with that on top of COVID-19. But remember, the flu vaccine is relatively effective.”
Partin pointed out that hospitals in the area are starting out the flu season with patients already in ICUs and regular wards because of COVID-19. So the more influenza can be prevented, the better off health care systems will be in handling any surge in cases.
A further consideration is that this year’s flu season will be different from the past.
“This is the first year we’ve changed up the vaccine as much as we have,” Partin said. “Our typical flu vaccine contains four different strains of influenza; this year three of the four strains are changed from last year.”
Testing will also be more essential than ever, as symptoms of COVID and influenza “overlap significantly.” Partin predicts there will be testing simultaneously for both COVID and the flu.
“It will make us use a lot more of our testing kits than we are now,” he said. “Hopefully as time goes on, we’ll ramp up with more tests, and more rapid and simpler tests.”