Doctors advise getting an influenza vaccine this year, because COVID symptoms are similar

Every year influenza kills about 30,000 people in the U.S. That’s according to Gundersen Health System doctor Raj Naik who says it’s especially important to get the influenza vaccine this year.

“People that will have symptoms that are indistinguishable from the Coronavirus it’s significant so it’ll make it just more complicated to sort out who has influenza and who has COVID,” said Naik.

Niak said, it will most likely become regular protocol to test for each.

“Of course we have testing for each, but it just taxes the system more. Secondly, that is if we had a big epidemic of influenza on top of what we’re dealing with, with coronavirus… it could really tax the resources that hospital systems have,” said Naik.

Of the 10 people we talked to in downtown La Crosse, all say they plan to get the flu vaccine regardless of the pandemic.

“I’ve always thought that vaccinations are really important. If you look back through history, small pox, measles, polio, those are things that are only being irraticated or are irraticated by the vaccines,” said Jaclyn Freeberg.

“I would get the flu vaccine anyway.. even if it weren’t for corona.. I would definitely get it anyway,” said Frank Aberger.

“I think it’s particularly important to get a flu vaccine in these times of the Coronavirus, I think we want to protect ourselves as much as we can. Against any kind of infection,” said County Board Member, Monica Kruse.

And Naik said it’s also especially important to get the flu vaccine this year because of a new swine flu strain.

“It has the potential, since it is a mutation that is new in this type of strain to cause problems and has some potential to cause pandemic type illness,” said Naik.

But, to help stop the spread of any illness, including COVID, Naik says keep following CDC guidelines.

“One of the interesting things that we were able to see with the physical distancing and the stay at home orders is that happened in March is we were still having a high burden of influenza disease, and as soon as we stayed at home, and started washing our hands this was even before the face coverings… the influenza illness quickly dissipated,” said Naik.