Health experts stress the importance of the flu shot amid the COVID-19 pandemic

A Valley pharmacist says you can get a flu shot now and it’ll last through the season.

PHOENIX – Flu season is around the corner as Arizona begins to reel back its COVID-19 spread, with much of the state reopening. Now, state leaders are focusing on a flu immunization effort saying the shot is more important now than ever before.

A Valley pharmacist said on Sept. 2 he’s already seeing patients come in for flu shots as health experts say there’s the possibility of getting COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

If the flu season is as bad as it was in 2019, pit could create a surge in ICU bed usage that’s already impacted by COVID-19 patients. Governor Doug Ducey said in 2019, the state had more than 36,000 cases of flu — the highest ever.

“The importance of getting a flu shot is so we protect ourselves and our community,” said Robert Squire with SpotRx Pharmacy.

Pharmacists, like Squire, are saying the time to get the vaccine is now. “The earlier the better, the more time to build it up,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19, but it does have other benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death.

“It is going to directly or indirectly help with any other virus you have and mitigate symptoms,” Squire explained.

With the anticipation of more people wanting the vaccine, the CDC says manufacturers will provide up to 198 million doses of flu vaccine compared to the 175 million last season.

Health experts say if you get a vaccine now, it will last you through the season. They are also working to determine how effective the vaccine is this year — last season it was 29% effective according to the CDC.

In an effort to expand access to vaccinations, they will be available to the underinsured and uninsured. Flu shots will also be available at some COVID-19 testing sites.

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