Health care workers: Don’t skip the flu shot amid COVID-19 surge

As the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread, the flu season is right around the corner. And some health care workers in the D.C. area are looking to get ahead of the flu now.

“We ordered [flu vaccines] aggressively because the flu season last year was wild,” said Samir Balile, the clinical program manager at Giant Pharmacy.

The grocery store chain began offering the flu shot early this month, long before the October start of the flu season, he said.

This fall, he’s expecting a potential onslaught of people wanting COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccines.

“If you have the patient in the chair, it’s just another shot,” Balile said of many pharmacists’ practice of giving the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot in the same session.

Loudon County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend said the flu season always comes with unknown factors, such as how aggressive a particular flu strain might be.

Goodfriend said people should wait a few weeks to get a flu shot, so immunity doesn’t drop by the height of the season in January and February.

“Each year, our emergency departments start filling up with flu cases. Last year, we had all of the mitigating steps in place,” Goodfriend said. “We don’t know what this year’s going to be. And, having to deal with flu on top of COVID is just something that’s an added burden on our health care system.”

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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