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Now is time for flu shots, CDC says

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 12:10 PM CDT
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(CNN) - There’s a lot of talk about the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, but top U.S. health officials are urging Americans not to forget about the flu shot.

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb, many hospitals are busting at the seams.

“We are having to prepare ourselves for having yet again another surge after the Labor Day holiday and, by the way, after kids going to school,” said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, president of clinical care for the Providence Health System.

Packed hospitals are another reason to be concerned about the flu.

Each year influenza causes millions to be sick, hundreds of thousands to be hospitalized and tens of thousands of deaths.

However, the U.S. saw an extremely low number of flu cases in 2020.

“Last year, I think we had one case total at our hospital,” said Dr. Eric Adkins, an emergency physician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Adkins said the low number of cases was likely due to public health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing.

This year, with many unmasking, Adkins said getting a flu shot is one of the ways to protect yourself.

“Don’t let having one year of having low influenza cases make you feel comfortable without getting the vaccine,” Adkins said.

The time to think about getting a flu shot is now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They recommend getting the influenza vaccine by the end of October.

The agency said people can be vaccinated from both flu and COVID-19 at the same time because you can also catch both viruses at the same time.

“They’re going to be more likely to require hospitalization and may even need an ICU level of care, potentially with a ventilator,” Adkins said.

The CDC said some children need two doses of the flu vaccine.

Influenza vaccination can also be considered for those who are pregnant, especially anyone in the third trimester of pregnancy, because the CDC said this can help protect their infants during the first months of life when the child is too young to be vaccinated.

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