Physician recommends flu shot as COVID-19 stresses hospitals

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Even as the state battles a surge in COVID-19 cases, influenza season is just around the corner.

It starts on Oct. 9 this year, but doctors say you should get your flu shot as early as possible. That’s around the time many may be getting COVID-19 booster shots.

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Flu cases and deaths across the United States and in Hawaii have plummeted as safety practices like masks, social distancing, and high flu vaccination rates helped eliminate transmission.

The CDC says there are usually tens of millions of flu cases a season, but only a few thousand were recorded this year.

According to the Department of Health, in the first week of August 1.3% of outpatient tests were positive for influenza, which is comparable to Hawaii’s normal levels.

“We already saw a few flu cases already. Now, not a lot but it’s just the beginning of the flu season,” Dr. Alan Wu of Doctors of Waikiki said.

Influenza might not be as severe, but it comes with similar symptoms of COVID-19.

“Definitely you get cough, shortness of breath, high fever, body aches, fatigue, nausea,” Dr. Wu said.

Before COVID, influenza normally killed about 500 people in Hawaii per year. Dr. Wu says now would be a great time to get the flu shot so it can be spaced out with a potential booster for COVID-19.

“The reason why is you really don’t know which one is affecting if you do have side effects,” Dr. Wu said. “So that’s why I always encourage people to separate out at least three weeks to four weeks between shots. So you can get your flu shot first, then do your series of COVID or vice versa.”

If you don’t do it for yourself, healthcare workers are begging you to do so to avoid more stress on them.

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“We’re tired. When we get pushed to that type of work hours, we can make mistakes,” Dr. Wu said. “You’ll see a lot of medical fatigue and compassion fatigue from the medical providers. That’s not needed if everybody can get vaccinated. We’re tired. I’m tired. I go home I want to play with my kids, I’m too tired to play with them.”

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