LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Flu season and COVID-19 are about to collide. Both are contagious respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them.
Health officials say this flu season will look different this year with COVID-19 still in the mix. That's why experts like Dr. Blair Duddy say it's very important to get the flu vaccine now more than ever.
Gov. Steve Sisolak and other Las Vegas area officials received their flu shots during a press conference stressing the importance of getting one during the pandemic. Watch a replay of that here.
"Even for the people who have never done a flu vaccine," explained Dr. Duddy, "because it's likely having COVID and influenza at the same time would be a bad combo."
If the flu sends a lot of people to clinics and hospitals, that increases the risk of catching the coronavirus.
There is also the overlap between COVID-19 treatment and treatment for severe cases of the flu.
Experts believe if enough people get flu vaccines this year, it could prevent hospitals from being filled with both coronavirus patients and people suffering from severe influenza this winter.
Health officials say everyone six months and older should get the flu shot.
"As a pediatrician, vaccinations are the most important advances in the world of pediatrics in the past 20 years," Dr. Duddy said.
"I would never do something that I would do for my own kids and my kids are first in line for vaccines and the flu shot."
The CDC recommends getting the flu shot in September or October.
For those 65 and older and those with compromised immune systems, experts say to wait until at least mid-September so the vaccine's protection lasts the entire season.
Health experts say it's a good idea to get it early because there may be added obstacles this year.
People who usually get the shot at work, for example, may still be working from home. And those who get it from the doctor may have a longer wait time for an appointment.
There are other places offering flu shots now, like pharmacies where you can walk in, and the Southern Nevada Health District is offering flu shots by appointment only.
“As we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, a flu shot is a powerful tool to help make sure we are all staying healthy,” Gov. Sisolak said. “We want to ensure our healthcare systems have enough personnel, equipment, and capacity to treat all patients and by getting a flu shot, you are doing your part to help."