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Colorado Doctors Encourage Flu Vaccine, Says Season Might Not Be As Mild As 2020

AURORA (CBS4) - As flu season approaches in Colorado, the second during the pandemic, people still receiving COVID-19 vaccines should not delay getting their flu shot, according to doctors. Staff at The Medical Center of Aurora say patients can even receive both shots on the same day, but should use separate arms so local reactions to either shot can be tracked separately.

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"If you get the flu, you need to go to the ER because you get the flu, you might be waiting many, many hours to do that so prevention is key here," said Dr. Eric Hill, an emergency physician and EMS medical director for TMCA.

Hill said the roll out of the flu vaccine is usually in late September and October based on when the flu peaks in Colorado during the winter months. Some pharmacies already have shots available. Hill anticipates the upcoming season will not be as mild as last year, when health measures like wearing masks and people traveling less along with working from home kept cases low.

"The lowest numbers I've ever seen in my career. I'm not sure we'll see that this year," he told CBS4 on Monday.

The two vaccines are different, and research so far shows there are no concerns about receiving another type while getting a dose of the COVID-19 shot. But the Delta variant increasing cases does worry the doctor about what the flu response will look like later this year. He notes that COVID cases rising and hospitalizations limiting beds is already creating problems in other states.

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"That's something I've never seen in 15 years of medicine, that we literally cannot get a patient admitted in that own state," Hill said on a video conference call. "It's a preventable injury and it's really self-inflicted."

There are only so many beds available and if some are occupied because of a preventable disease, like COVID, it will impact the service available in the rare case someone needs to be hospitalized by the flu. Hill explained it makes the choice clear to him that people need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and receive the flu shot this year.

"Getting the flu is absolutely miserable. Usually not fatal but it's miserable," he said.

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