Health officials warning Hoosiers to get flu shot during COVID-19 pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS — Health officials are sending a warning about the upcoming flu season. 

They want people to seriously think about getting the flu vaccine, because of new research showing it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 twice.

“It’s way more beneficial than any kind of risk associated with it. We recommend everyone get the Flu shot,” Riverview Health ER and Urgent Care’s Dr. Gregory Pugh said.

Every year thousands die as a result of flu complications and Butler University Professor Christopher Stobart said scientific data shows co-infections can happen. 

He thinks influenza and the coronavirus could do a lot of harm this winter. 

“The concern is now you’re going to have this amplifying of hospitalizations and mortality. Flu could make COVID-19 worse and COVID-19 could make the flu worse. Those two combined will be taxing our healthcare system,” Butler University’s Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Christopher Stobart said. 

COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms like muscle aches, fever, and shortness of breath. 

Stobart says some research shows if you got COVID-19 in the past, that doesn’t mean you won’t get it again this winter. 

“If you catch this virus or you catch some variant of this virus then you see another strain or variant later on your immune system may not respond as well to it,” Stobart explained.

He said there’s a three to six-month window where you’re protected against the second exposure, but that depends on how strong the infection was the first time. 

 “If those antibodies go away, which we know they go away slowly at a time. If it gets to a low enough level that they don’t provide protection you can be infected,” Stobart said.

Doctors said if you’ve always been against the flu vaccine 2020 is the year to get it. 

Many pharmacies are already offering flu shots. 

The CDC says you can get the flu shot at 6-months-old.  

They suggest anyone over 65 to get the vaccination because they’re at a higher risk of developing serious complications.

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