State & local health officials urge residents to get their flu shots

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FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Local and state health officials urged residents on Tuesday to get the flu vaccine this year, warning that with the pandemic, hospital systems could get even more overwhelmed this flu season.

“We don’t really know, but these two viruses may actually feed off of each other or predispose people to become even sicker if they have both at the same time, there’s a lot of unknowns here,” Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said.

He said although there are unknowns, what is certain is that there’s a flu vaccine and getting one this year is more important than previous years.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California Health and Human Services Agency secretary, said they’ve been planning for the flu season in a much more aggressive way this year because of the pandemic, adding that the flu can already stress hospital systems on its own.

“Outbreaks of flu and COVID together will certainly cause a drain on already scarce healthcare resources,” Ghaly said. “This year getting your flu vaccine is especially important…It may be exactly what allows you to avoid an unnecessary visit to an emergency room in their urgent care.”

Although most schools are starting the academic year virtually, the state and the county also urged families to keep up with their kids’ vaccinations, recognizing that some families may be hesitant to go inside medical facilities.

“Our medical facilities do have systems in place where it is safe to go in and get our student immunizations completed,” said Jane Banks, the director of health services with Fresno Unified.

Vohra said despite distance learning, kids still have to keep up with their vaccinations.

“As our team is really gearing up to deal with outbreaks in whatever setting, we really need to minimize the number of outbreaks that we have to deal with and investigate,” Vohra said.

He said some pharmacies have begun to receive shipments of the influenza vaccine.

“It really can’t happen early enough. The fall and the winter months will be here before we know it and really the sooner the better,” Vohra said.

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