PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Gov. Doug Ducey is urging all Arizonans to get a flu shot this year. At a Monday news conference, Ducey said the sooner you can get vaccinated, the better.
"Flu season is just around the corner and Arizona isn't taking any chances," said Ducey.
This year, our state will be facing the flu and coronavirus simultaneously, so getting a flu shot can help. Many doctors have said the best thing you can do for your health is get the flu shot. Health experts urge people to get it sooner rather than later because you never know how long supplies will last.
While it might feel early to start thinking about flu season, the hope is more people will get vaccinated this year to keep from getting sick in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. "Preventing the flu is more important than ever," said Ducey.
Gov. Ducey says the state will be taking some "aggressive" steps this year to make sure as many Arizonans as possible can get vaccinated for the flu. Those steps include:
- Increasing flu shot access to underserved communities
- Partnering with health care providers and pharmacies
- Conducting business outreach
- Making the flu vaccine available at COVID-19 testing sites
- Creating an online “Vaccine Finder”
"The flu shot is always very important, but I think this year during the pandemic it is even more important," said Dr. Michael Manning, president of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Associates. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only about 45% of Americans got a flu shot last flu season. We know that depending on the severity of the season, flu patients can easily overrun a hospital."
In fact, some hospitals have been preparing for a wave of new patients as flu season approaches amid the pandemic.
Dr. Ross Goldberg, surgeon at Valleywise Health, said hospitals have been planning for an onslaught of patients sick with coronavirus and the flu. That's why he said Valleywise has been adding to its protocols for managing resources.
“We have resources. We don’t want to find out what our ceiling is,” says Goldberg. “We are prepared to deal with waves of patients. The question is, can we get help from the public to not cause a giant wave all at once?”
Valleywise is making sure hospitals can acquire more staff when needed, says Goldberg. Banner Health, which treats almost half of all COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Arizona, says it is also working on a plan for flu season.
On Monday, Ducey said that just like with COVID-19, there are simple things we can do to prevent the spread of influenza:
- Wash your hands
- Mask up
- Stay physically distant
- Stay home when sick
Influenza season is here. We take this seriously every year but with health resources focused on #COVID19, preventing the flu is more important than ever. So we’re announcing an aggressive plan to expand access to the flu vaccine, especially in underserved communities. 1/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) August 31, 2020