Concerned of a double pandemic, doctors urge a flu vaccination

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – With fall and winter around the corner, there are two viruses you want to avoid – coronavirus and influenza.

Doctors fear of a double pandemic ahead of cold and flu season as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Although flu season usually starts in January for the South Carolina residents, doctors recommend to get a flu vaccination sooner than later due many uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus.

Dr. Ray Holt, with McLeod Primary Care Seacoast, recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October before cases start to peak. Since COVID-19 and influenza both have similar symptoms like – sore throat, fever, and cough – you won’t know what you have until you take a test.

“If you have patients contract both influenza and COVID-19 which could happen – then you got a double whammy, so to speak, and our concern would be that they would develop double the complications,” Dr. Holt explained.

Complications can be severe or lead to death if you have underlying health conditions such as, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. Studies show, the flu vaccine is about 40-60% effective during flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control’s latest estimates show there were up to 62,000 flu-related deaths and over half a million flu-related hospitalizations in the 2019-2020 flu season.

If a double pandemic occurs, hospitals and medical staff could be at risk of being overwhelmed once again. “Lack of beds, lack of staff, you know those concerns could come to fruition in a season where we see high numbers in both of these infections,” Dr. Holt said.

Younger children and adults 65 and older are at an elevated risk of the virus. Since students are back in the classrooms, Dr. Holt warns parents to vaccinate their children even though they may have fewer complications.

“They are big-time spreaders,” Dr. Holt explained. “So, they spread it to it the community spread it to the adults – folks with chronic conditions. So, very important for the children to get immunizations also.”

Dr. Holt suggests getting a flu shot at your primary care doctor’s office because local pharmacies may not administer vaccinations to younger children and it may not offer a more potent flu vaccine, which is recommended for adults 65 and older.

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