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Health Watch: Officials encouraging flu vaccine to help fight against COVID-19

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:15 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues it’s spread across the country, health officals say the influenza vaccine is more important now than ever before. “I think that this year more than ever, the flu vaccine is important to get. And there’s multiple different reasons for that,” said Mishelle Nace, the Pediatric Medical Director and a pediatrician at Tanana Valley Clinic.

One of the main ways the flu vaccine will help is because the symptoms of the flu and coronavirus often overlap. The flu vaccine will reduce the number of people with symptoms. “By having your flu vaccine it decreases your chances of having flu symptoms which helps then not have that same overlap and wondering which illness this could be,” Dr. Nace said. This will help keep more tests available and keep more hospital beds open.

“So by decreasing the number of flu, which we do have a vaccine for, will also help us then fight COVID and be better protected as a health care system and a community for fighting COVID-19,” she said.

As for the effectiveness of the vaccine, she said that it can vary year to year and some years it doesn’t cover the flu as well as others, “but that is not a reason to not get the flu shot,” said Dr. Nace.

Dr. Nace also said the flu vaccine is safe for most people, but acknowledges that some groups of people shouldn’t get the vaccine, like babies under six months old and some people with immune concerns. She said people should consult with their health care provider before making those decisions.

She also said the vaccines aren’t just for children, but encourages adults to get them as well. The more people who get the vaccine, the better the state will be able to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and return to normal. Vaccines should be available in the end of September to beginning of October.

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