SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – Area healthcare providers are urging everyone to get a flu vaccine this year as concerns about treating both flu patients and COVID-19 patients grow.
Dr. Brenda Ormesher is an infectious disease expert at with PeaceHealth in Springfield. Ormesher said flu cases begin to pop up locally around December with peaks in January and February, but the season extends into the spring. The 2019-2020 flu season will be an added challenge for medical workers already concerned about coronavirus cases.
“We may become overwhelmed in the hospital. If the hospital becomes overwhelmed, elective surgeries may have to be put on hold and there’s further downstream effects,” Ormesher said.
Officials also said there is strong evidence that it is possible to have COVID-19 and the seasonal flu at the same time, making for an especially dangerous combination.
“Given that coinfection could lead to increased complications, having the addition of flu with COVID makes disease much more likely to be severe and have poor outcomes,” Ormesher said.
The best way to combat the problem is with a vaccination, which typically become available toward mid-September. Ormesher said they want to see the entire community vaccinated by the end of October. Even those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should get a flu vaccine, Ormesher said.
While COVID-19 precautions that prevent the spread of illness have become commonplace, there’s no guarantee those precautions will dampen the severity of the coming flu season.
“Masking, staying socially distant, not going out when you’re sick, it’s always a great way to decrease the spread of infections,” Ormesher said. "But as you can tell, even when we do these measures we still see the spread of COVID.”
Find out more information about where to get a flu vaccine here.