By Dimitra Trejo
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The 2020 flu season is different from previous flu seasons due to the ongoing pandemic.
So, given complications that could arise from confusing COVID-19 with the flu, UT Health RGV medical professionals are strenuously encouraging the public to get vaccinated for the flu.
“This year more than ever, it’s really important getting your flu vaccine” said Dr. Michael Dobbs, UT Health RGV chief medical officer.
Flu symptoms can mirror those of COVID-19 – including fever, cough and body aches. Getting vaccinated will help maximize your chances of staying safe from flu this winter.
“Those who get the flu might needlessly stay quarantined or get tested for COVID-19 as a precaution,” Dobbs said. “Therefore, wide vaccination against flu can reduce unnecessary COVID-19 testing, as well as protect people who are vulnerable.”
Those who are at risk of contracting the flu are the same people at risk for COVID-19, and the COVID-19 precautions of social distancing and mask-wearing could help lower the peak in cases.
Flu season can last from late fall to early spring.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging everyone older than 6 months of age to get a flu shot to help protect themselves and their communities from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
UT Health RGV is providing flu vaccines to anyone interested, at a cost of $20 for the standard vaccine and free with most insurance at their primary care clinics, while supplies last.
UTRGV also is offering free flu vaccines to all active UTRGV students and benefit-eligible employees through Employee Health centers on its campuses.
Currently, UT Health RGV also is providing free UT Health RGV masks for those who get flu shots at their clinics.
Dobbs stresses that, during this flu season, it is crucial to continue to practice social distancing and wear a mask, to mitigate your chances of contacting both COVID-19 and the flu.
“The flu vaccination is the best weapon we have against the flu,” Dobbs said. “It will help protect family members and close contacts who may be more vulnerable than you are. We must be proactive in our efforts to keep our communities safe.”
For more information on UTRGV flu resources, visit https://www.utrgv.edu/coronavirus/commitment-safety-success/flu-shots/index.htm