Less than 50 percent of Americans over 18 years old received a flu shot during the 2018-19 flu season, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That won’t be good enough when the 2020-21 flu season meets an expected second wave of COVID-19.
“If ever there was a year when the flu vaccine was an important one it’s this one,” said Dr. Eric Walsh, Medical Director of Hartford HealthCare GoHealth Urgent Care, shown above, at right, administering an influenza vaccine Sept. 30 to West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor.
Cantor’s flu shot was part of a press conference at the GoHealth location at Bishops Corner in West Hartford, urging people to help reduce an anticipated strain on the state’s healthcare system by avoiding flu symptoms that could require hospitalization or cause confusion with similar COVID-19 symptoms.
“We’re facing what we’re calling now a twindemic,” said Dr. Walsh. “Annually, the flu can kill over 30,000 people all by itself and as we know, the coronavirus has already taken 200,000 lives in the United States. If those two things collide in the wrong way and people aren’t careful in general, with all the things we’ve been talking about, we could have a huge rise in the number of cases of both and hospitals could be overwhelmed.”
Dr. Walsh also cautioned that medical professionals have not yet seen what might happen if people become infected with both seasonal flu and COVID-19.
“Just take good care of yourself,” he said. “This is the year to be as healthy as possible.”