Doctors Say Getting Flu Shot Is More Important Than Ever Amidst COVID-19

Thursday, September 10th 2020, 9:18 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

TULSA, Okla. -

Doctors said getting a flu shot is more important than ever now, as keeping as many people healthy as possible will be key to not overwhelming hospitals. 

Doctors said since a vaccine is available for the flu, people should take advantage of it and better their chances of staying healthy.

"This year is the most important year we've ever had getting the flu vaccine," said Dr. Jeffrey Galles, Chief Medical Officer at Utica Park Clinics.

He said doctors are still waiting to see what the combination of COVID-19 and the flu will look like but knows the flu will create weakened immune systems for weeks after people who get sick.

"With our systems being taxed already, adding flu admissions on top of COVID admissions would be a real strain on the health care system," said Galles.

Ellen Niemitalo with the Tulsa Health Department said if they see someone with flu or COVID-19 symptoms but know the person has gotten the flu vaccine, they said it will help them diagnose which virus it is faster.

"Once the flu season comes, providers will be assessing is it COVID or flu?" Niemitalo said.

We asked people on Facebook if they'll be getting a flu vaccine this season, Jessica Tinsley tells us she, her husband, and son Cooper get one every year. She said she has asthma and it's the best way to stay safe and healthy. So does Tulsan Tom Basler.

"Whether the flu shot works for you, you have to be aware you might carry it and give it to someone else," said Basler.

Many others, like Paula, said they're not getting the shot.

"I have never got it, only had the flu once 25 years ago,” Paula said.

Dr. Galles said what people are already doing to stop COVID-19 from spreading, like washing hands, staying apart and wearing a mask may make this year lighter for flu cases, like it already has in other places around the world.

The health department will start giving flu vaccines by appointment only in October. Utica Park clinics are offering the shot at drive-through events for their patients.