TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As Arizonans anxiously await for cooler temperatures, health experts continue to push for flu vaccinations as a top priority.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, receiving a flu shot offfers the greatest protection against the flu- and an annual dose is recommended for individuals six-months-or-older who do not have medical conditions that would prevent from being vaccinated.
In addition to the typical health risks associated to the flu, COVID-19 poses an additional threat this season- according to Dr. Nathaniel Rial, Chief of Staff at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital.
Dr. Rial says that getting a flu shot ensures that Southern Arizona’s healthcare system does not become overwhelmed as providers continue to battle the coronavirus.
According to the CDC, the flu has led to between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations annually since 2010. Coupling that seasonal increase in hospitalizations with the impacts of COVID-19 could have consequences on the region’s healthcare system.
“If large waves of people are infected with the flu, COVID, or both, we could have another surge in respiratory infections and hospitalizations similar to or even larger than what we experienced over the summer,” said Chief Operating Officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. Nikki Castel.
Because the flu and coronavirus are spread similarily, health care experts offer several tips on guarding against both viruses, including receiving a flu shot:
• Avoiding close contact with others, especially those who are sick
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
• Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
• Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Stay at home when you are sick