Flu shot and COVID-19: Health officials urge those eligible to get flu vaccine, avoid 'twindemic'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hospitals coping with COVID-19 cases could have a big fight on their hands this flu season.

So doctors are urging people to get their flu shots, in an effort to avoid a so-called "twindemic."

Flu season is just months away and health officials' calls for people to get vaccinated are even louder than ever.

"Everybody who is eligible to get vaccinated should get vaccinated," said Dr. Sharon Welbel, director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at Cook County Health.

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic expected to coincide with flu season, doctors say, the concern over a possible "twindemic" underscores the need for people to get the flu vaccine.

"Last season we were seeing a lot of flu; we saw flu well into the spring while we were seeing COVID," Welbel said. "So that will happen again; we will be seeing flu, and we will be seeing COVID and there are patients that will have both at the same time."

Welbel said the flu vaccine will not only protect you and your family but help alleviate any possible strain on healthcare systems.

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"And more importantly it will literally save lives," she said.

Walgreens announced this week their pharmacies are now offering flu shots with an increased supply to meet demand.

"We've had patients asking even before we ever got our flu shots, 'when are the flu shots gonna be here?'" Walgreens Pharmacy Manager Danielle Soriano said.

Those who get a flu shot at a Walgreens will need to wear a face mask and be screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms.

"It does take two weeks to become fully effective, so it is important to make sure you get it by the end of October is what the CDC recommends," Soriano said.

Cook County Health said every year less than 50% of adults in the U.S. get vaccinated. This flu season they hope that number jumps higher.

"Do things that we have control over so we can protect ourselves, protect our families and protect our communities," Welbel said. "We need to do a good job and we can do it, just everybody has to participate."
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