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Local doctors advise getting flu shot early

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 3:25 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2020 at 6:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, seasonal illness is on the way.

Flu season is around the corner while health officials say to prepare.

Health department officials want people to get their flu shots this season as soon as possible.

Officials say COVID-19 and the flu have the same symptoms and they worry that could send a lot of people to the hospital.

“It’s hard to tell the difference without a test,” said Dr. Anne O’Keefe, a senior epidemiologist with the Douglas County Health Department. “If we end up with a bad flu season on top of a lot of COVID, it’s going to be harder for labs and hospitals to catch up with. I think it’s really important for people to get the flu shot now.”

Flu shots are available at some retailers in the Omaha area. O’Keefe tells us with school in session, it’s important to get students vaccinated soon.

“Parents might not be thinking about that as much. Let’s try to get them vaccinated because they’re in school and close together and we know they are major drivers of flu transmission,” O’Keefe said. “Now there’s more and more evidence that they’re major drivers of COVID transmission, too. Get kids in for flu shots -- call their doctors -- get them in as soon as possible.”

O’Keefe says steps taken now to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same things that will help slow the transmission of the flu.

“If we’re really good about social distancing, masking and limiting indoor activity as much as possible, we could decrease our flue numbers as well as our COVID numbers,” she said.

Flu season usually starts in the fall and can continue into spring, the CDC recommends we get our flu shots before the flu season starts to help protect yourself and those around you.

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