Health care providers and public health officials are asking Washington state residents to get a flu shot this year to help ease potential surges in the health care system due to people who may need treatment for both COVID-19 and influenza.
Flu season in North America typically arrives around November and lasts into March or April. The influenza vaccine is approved and safe for nearly all people, from babies six months old and older. According to a Washington health official, the vaccine is effective in preventing the flu and decreasing the number of hospitalizations and deaths from the flu as well. Put simply, if a person who gets a flu shot still manages to catch the flu, the illness won’t be as severe. In 2018, about 38% of adults across the entire state got the vaccine.
Because flu symptoms and COVID symptoms are similar, health care providers also anticipate needing to test patients with coughs, fevers and chills for both influenza and COVID-19. Washington state has stockpiled PPE and testing equipment, and Reed Schuler, senior policy advisor for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the state is prepared for a surge of need. (Spokesman-Review)