Just as New Yorkers are preparing for tests for COVID-19, doctors say they have also received higher-frequency flu vaccines earlier in the season than in previous years.
This follows the advice of the Centers for Disease Control, which warns of the possibility of “twindemia” this fall – with big jumps in both coronavirus and influenza. They recommend the flu vaccine as a way to alleviate the burden on healthcare providers, who may be overwhelmed again with COVID cases in the coming weeks and months.
“There is no doubt that more people will live to have the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Ramon Talay, chairman of SOMOS Community Care, a network of healthcare providers across the city. “We are seeing an increase in people coming to practice to get the vaccine, which is good because it takes time for the vaccine to work in your body.”
But as more people receive flu care this year, is there a chance of a shortage? Most doctors do not believe it, as they said they took precautions before rushing.
“We ordered about 15-20 percent higher than last year,” said SOMOS President Dr. Henry Chen. “This is the best time to get the vaccine, as the vaccine needs at least a month to produce the antibodies.”
However, there are some reports of other doctor’s offices being depleted after not expecting increased demand. Tallaj said anyone who encounters this problem with their doctor can wait for recovery unless they are at high risk – such as the elderly or those with certain illnesses.
Experts also believe that this year will probably be a milder flu season. This is not only because of the jump in the applied flu vaccines, but also because of the precautions that people are already taking for COVID – wearing masks, washing their hands and social distancing. All of these actions also work to prevent getting the flu.
Some experts also believe that getting a flu vaccine will help the body’s immune system fight other diseases, such as COVID-19.