Flu can weaken resistance to COVID-19 so doctors say be sure to get vaccinated

If you get the flu this year, it could weaken your ability to fight off COVID-19 so doctors strongly recommend the influenza vaccine.
The CDC estimates between 39 to 56 million Americans got the flu during the last season. Experts say if you get the flu this season, it could also raise your risk of COVID 19.

But there is something you can do to increase your chances of staying healthy.

For most of her life, mother of two Kristal Andersen of Lancaster was against the flu shot.

She said, "I never really get sick so what's the point to get them. My own thing was I didn't want to feel sick."

Misconceptions kept Andersen away, but she soon changed her view.

Her kids' pediatrician, Dr. David Bronstein at Kaiser Permanente said, "It is literally impossible for a flu vaccine to cause the flu."

Bronstein, who is also a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said doctors don't want to see an influx of both flu and COVID-19 patients.

"Of course, our hospitals and our clinics and our ICUs," he said, "We need to preserve that capacity to see COVID patients."

Bronstein said you don't want to risk getting both infections at the same time.

"Being sick with flu is going to weaken your immunity and make you more susceptible to COVID-19 and vice versa is probably true as well," he said.

The elderly and the young are most vulnerable to the flu, but in addition, Bronstein said the focus needs to be on the ones who are out and about.

"The group that we often don't immunize as much as we absolutely need to are the young working-age adults," Bronstein said.

The jury is still out on how easily kids transmit COVID-19. But when it comes to the flu, Bronstein said we have a wealth of evidence to show they are super spreaders. If infected, the flu can make children very sick.

He said, "For now, I think the flu seems to be the bigger threat to kids."

Andersen said, "They usually do drive-through so we don't even have to get out of the cars. No contact. They wear masks. We wear masks and I think that's going to be the way that we go this year."

She said she and her family are going to be the first ones in line.

"From one skeptic to all those skeptics out there," Andersen said, "Go out and get your flu shot. That's just the most important thing I think I can say."
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