PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - While it's only August, you may have already noticed the flu shot being offered at some major pharmacies. This year, it looks like we'll be facing the flu and the coronavirus simultaneously.
Doctors say the best thing you can do is get the flu shot sooner rather than later because you never know how long supplies will last. And while it might feel early, the hope is more people will get a flu shot this year to keep from getting sick in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
"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.
"We really want people to get the vaccine and keep themselves protected," said Manning.
He suggests everyone do what they can to protect their health. His best medical advice is to get that flu shot as soon as possible.
"Especially if you have any type of underlying medical conditions like respiratory conditions, cardiovascular conditions. As soon as you see it, I would probably go ahead and get it," said Manning.
Not only because it takes two to four weeks for the vaccine to be effective in your system, but also because there's a chance there could be a run on flu shots, creating a shortage.
"I would like everybody to get the flu shot," said Manning.
Production is ramping up but so is demand, primarily because of the pandemic.
"The flu and COVID infection or coronavirus symptoms can be very similar and we may have difficulty telling them apart," said Manning.
"If you were to get true influenza and COVID at the same time, we don't know what that would look like, but I don't think it would look well at all," said Manning.
He said it's never been more important to get that flu shot and do all you can to stay healthy.
"You know, work with your physician because the healthier you are, if you get any type of viral infection, then you are guaranteed to tolerate it better," said Manning.
He said if you got the flu shot in early mid-August, it should give you coverage through the entire flu season. If you are immuno-compromised, you might need a booster in six months, just to be safe.