Updated: September 22, 2020 10:11 PM
Created: September 22, 2020 08:56 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With flu season right around the corner, health experts are advising people to schedule their flu shot to avoid a double whammy of the flu and COVID-19.
“If we're going to reopen schools safely, it has to include no child going to school with respiratory symptoms, fever, chills, coughs, sore throat, runny stuffy nose, muscle body ache, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell—you know,” said Dr. David Scrase, New Mexico Human Services Department Cabinet Secretary, during a Tuesday webinar.
This year, experts said it’s especially important to get vaccinated since flu symptoms can look very similar to COVID symptoms and any steps people can take to keep hospitalizations down is good.
“This is a pandemic we're in now,” Dr. Scrase said.
Dr. Scrase said efforts to curb coronavirus have also had a positive impact on the number of flu cases.
“We saw a very sharp decline in influenza cases right around March when we began social distancing and mask wearing and the like,” he said.
The Southern Hemisphere saw the same thing during their flu seasons.
“This could be positive news for the Northern Hemisphere,” Scrase said.
“It doesn't mean we won't have flu activity. It doesn't mean we won't have an influenza season,” said Dr. Chad Smelser, acting state epidemiologist.
Even a small increase in flu cases, coupled with COVID cases, could be difficult for the state to deal with.
As for a COVID vaccine, Scrase said there’s no exact date for when they’ll become available.
“We don't really know the true timeline. There are a lot of numbers of dates being thrown around,” he said. “It’s still unknown, but we will be doing an independent review by our scientific experts and NMDOH to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective.”
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