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Doctors Concerned About Flu Season During Coronavirus Pandemic: 'Vaccination For Influenza Is The Most Important Thing We Can Do'

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Now that fall is just a few weeks away, medical experts are warning so is flu season.

And with COVID-19 still prevalent, they're issuing a strong word of advice to stay - and keep others - healthy.

If you've never gotten a flu shot, they say this is the year.

"Vaccination for influenza is most important thing we can do as a society this season," said Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an Emergency Physician with Texas Health.

That's because COVID-19 is about to meet influenza - and experts worry about the consequences.

"We're hopeful that the number of cases of influenza this year is very, very low, because we're concerned about patients who have influenza and could have COVID-19," said Dr. Gary Weinstein, a Pulmonary Critical Care Physician with Dallas Presbyterian and the Director of Pulmonary/Critical Care at Southwest Pulmonary Associates.

The one-two punch will likely cause confusion, experts say, amongst both patients and physicians initially.

"It will be hard for practitioners at the bedside without testing to know exactly what we're dealing with," said Dr. Hardesty.

There's also the risk of double exposure in the hospital - and the ensuing burden on the system.

"If we see this huge spike in flu alongside an elevation of COVID in the fall, it could really be disruptive to the health care system," he said.

Experts hope that already-established practices, such as social distancing and wearing masks, will keep numbers down. And they say there's one way everyone can do his or her part.

"We have a very safe and effective vaccine for influenza, and the more people who take it, the less cases there will be," said Dr. Weinstein.

Even if you got the flu vaccine this calendar year, doctors say it won't help. They say you need to get it every season for it to be effective. They also recommend getting your flu shot early. It is already available through many providers in North Texas.

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