With flu season on the horizon – and the COVID-19 pandemic expected to continue – Texas physicians should strongly encourage patients to receive a flu vaccination as early as possible.
At a press conference at UT Southwestern in Dallas today, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other state health leaders emphasized the need for Texans to continue to be vigilant against COVID-19 – including mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand hygiene – as a way to also minimize the severity of the upcoming flu season.
“We want to urge everyone to understand the importance of getting ahead of the curve of by making sure you do get a flu vaccine,” Governor Abbott said. “With a flu season that could be prolific, if that leads to greater hospitalizations, coupled with COVID-19, you could easily see how hospitals across Texas will be completely overrun.”
Earlier in the day, he met with state health leaders and medical experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center about how Texas can respond to the flu season.
“The symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are very similar, so we want to decrease both,” said John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) commissioner. “In the case of flu, we have an excellent vaccine that has proven to be very effective in the Southern Hemisphere that we’ll be using here.
“Let’s continue our vigilance and discipline in measure to prevent COVID-19, and in doing so we hope to have the mildest flu season in history,” Dr. Hellerstedt continued.
After spiking in mid-July, the number of daily new cases of COVID-19 began to drop at the end of the month, with a slight increase in the first week of August, according to DSHS.
However, Governor Abbott stressed that “we are not at all anywhere close to being in a safe situation with COVID-19.”
If you want to help improve vaccination rates in Texas, participate in the Texas Medical Association’s Be Wise – ImmunizeSM program, which offers vaccination resources for physicians.
TMA also has created a CME course, Talk to Your Patients About: Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, designed to help you understand the diseases vaccines prevent so you have better information when speaking with patients.
The course is part of TMA’s ongoing Talk to Your Patients multimedia campaign, which gives you tools, information, and resources to help you discuss vaccinations with patients. The series cover vaccine-preventable diseases and common vaccination myths.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its website to include answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the 2020-21 flu season. The FAQ includes answers to questions such as:
- Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19? and
- Is COVID-19 more dangerous than flu?
Stay up to date with the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.