COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
With summer coming to an end the flu season is approaching right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and health experts are urging people now more than ever to get a flu shot this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45 percent of adults got the flu shot last year.
The CDC also reported that over the past decade the flu has killed an average of 37,000 people every year.
The Missouri Department of Public Health reported 101 flu-related deaths and 113,395 positive flu cases last season.
Chief Medical Officer at Boone Hospital Dr. Robin Blount said the flu vaccine is not only for a single individual's protection but the protection of people around them.
“The reason you really want to do it this year is with COVID also present, you really run a risk of having two concomitant diseases,” Dr. Blount said.
She said if someone were to have the flu and COVID-19 the chances of severe respiratory disease could be much higher.
“We lose thousands of people to the influenza,” Dr. Blount said. “We don’t need that on top of what we’re already dealing with.”
Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar including fever, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches. This means it could be hard to distinguish between the two.
Dr. Blount said that it is important to visit a doctor if someone is experiencing the overlapping symptoms to determine which test to have done.
She said every year they dread flu season but they are always prepared for it.
"We increase our staffing," Dr. Blount said. "We know we'll have a lot more patients with upper respiratory disease."
Dr. Blount said they have been able to handle the hospitalizations they have had so far but that could all change when flu season arrives.
"We've been able to manage what’s coming our way so far," Dr. Blount said. "But when you add flu on top of that it could be significantly more of a challenge."
She said it is the community’s social responsibility to get the flu vaccine, wear a mask and social distance because the hospital needs to be able to take care of the people that do get sick.
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Assistant Director Scott Clardy said the department is working out details for their flu shot program and more information will be released next week.
Besides the doctor’s office, below are locations where you can receive the flu vaccine.