California health officials fret about mix of coronavirus, flu amid decline in child vaccination rates

Health officials are urging Californians to get flu shots this year as the state continues dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Health officials are urging Californians to get flu shots this year as the state continues dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, with most California students distance learning from home, the state health and human services agency reported that child vaccinations are substantially down.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's health and human services secretary, said Tuesday that the number of children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella as they prepare to enter elementary school plummeted when schools and businesses closed in the spring.

Health officials are encouraging everyone to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.

This season's flu vaccine is available now to any person 6 months and older. Flu season typically starts around September or October and peaks in December.

The concern is that flu cases will stress hospitals already overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the 2019 flu season, up to 740,000 people were hospitalized, and the agency said the flu resulted in as many as 62,000 deaths.

Doctors warn it's possible to have viral infections at once.

"We're in the middle of a pandemic and as citizens and members of this community it's really important for us to get the flu vaccine this year," said Dr. Morris Kokhab, medical director of UrgentMed. "One, it will protect you from the flu. Two, if it doesn't, but you still get it, you'll have a less severe case of influenza."

The New York Times is reporting that vaccine makers project a record 98 million Americans will receive a flu shot, a 15% increase from last year.

In California, the UC system announced it is requiring all employees and students to get the flu vaccine by Nov. 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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