It’s OK to double down on flu, COVID-19 vaccinations, Myrtle Beach area doctors say

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — It’s that time of year again. Flu season has arrived, and as local hospitals begin to administer the vaccine, they say they’re also getting questions about COVID-19 shots.

Physicians at Tidelands Health and Conway Medical Center say many people want to know if it’s OK to get the flu vaccine on top of the COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot. Simply put, the answer is yes.

“You need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and for influenza,” Dr. Paul Richardson, the chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center, said.

Dr. Gerald Harmon, a Tidelands Health physician who is also president of the American Medical Association, said getting the vaccines help prevent illnesses while also lessening the side effects of diseases.

“Not only can you get both vaccines but you can get both illnesses,” Dr. Harmon said.

Harmon said it’s OK to get both shots on the same day, but he recommends different arms for soreness.

“Get it now,” he said. “After the first of October, that’s peak flu season.”

Harmon also said: “I know we’re in the middle of a COVID pandemic, but guess what…it’s flu season. All of our chronic diseases including influenza, have not taken a holiday.”

Richardson predicted that this year’s flu season will be worse than last year.

“Last year, one of the reasons it was a very light flu season was the fact that a lot of people were wearing masks,” he said. “There was a lot more social distancing going on, more paying attention to hand-washing, hand-hygiene and that kind of thing, so we really did see what those simple measures can do.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months or older. It takes about two weeks for it to take full effect.

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