LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Doctors are urging everyone to get a flu vaccine this year. They worry that a spike in flu patients on top of the COVID-19 pandemic could overwhelm hospitals across the valley.
Starting in September or October, the CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine.
“Certainly kids. Anybody high risk, people who have co-morbidities, certainly healthcare workers, teachers, people that are around kids. They should all be vaccinated,” said Dr. Clarence Dunagan of Mountain View Hospital.
Not only is Dr. Dunagan worried about flu and COVID-19 patients overwhelming the system, but he says patients could get both at once.
“If you get COVID and influenza on top of that there’s a potential for you to be much worse with the combination,” Dr. Dunagan said.
In an effort to get everyone vaccinated, manufacturers are projecting there will be nearly 198 million flu vaccines available this flu season. That’s more than the record 175 million doses last year.
The CDC is purchasing an additional 2 million pediatric vaccinations and nearly 10 million for adults.
While COVID-19 and influenza are different viruses, they present many of the same symptoms. In some cases testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
“It is confusing for us to have both the flu and COVID with very similar symptoms,” said Dr. David Hart with Mountain View Hospital. “So, the fewer people that have the flu, the less inundated the hospitals will be.”
Last flu season, there were 54 deaths in Clark County and 1,400 confirmed cases. More than 1,300 people were hospitalized.
The CDC says there is a test that can detect both influenza and COVID-19. It will be used by public health labs across the U.S.
For more information about the difference in symptoms between the flu and COVID-19, CLICK HERE.
The agency says it can help labs save time and testing materials, possibly returning results faster.
Initial test kits were sent to labs in early August, with more on the way.