Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the flu shot is more important than ever

As we enter cold and flu season, health officials say getting a flu shot is more important than ever to avoid a “twindemic.”

“We’re worried about the twindemic of COVID-19 and influenza,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, UCSF Professor of Medicine.

Dr. Chin-Hong is concerned about a few things. First, there may be a surge in cases of influenza as well as an uptick in coronavirus, which would put tremendous stress on the medical care system.

“We’re really close to the edge of the cliff with Covid and influenza hospitalizations and any strain on the medical system can tip us over the edge,” said Dr. Chin-Hong.

Dr. Chin-Hong predicts testing supplies will be impacted because COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms, and patients may be tested for both. He also said it’s possible for a person to get both illnesses at the same time.

At the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, members of the public can get a free flu shot on Saturdays, now through December from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’re providing flu shots without cost, without and appointment,” said Britt Ehrhardt, Public Health Communications Officer with Santa Clara County Public Health. “You don’t need health insurance, and everyone is welcome regardless of their immigration status.”

Ehrhardt said getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself during the pandemic. She said, “The flu shot does not protect your against COVID-19. There is no vaccine against COVID-19 but there is a vaccine to protect you against a serious disease influenza and that is a flu shot. And it is important for everyone 6 months and older to get one every year.”