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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Idaho Doctors: Don't Wait On The Flu Shot

St. Luke's Health System

Health officials are urging people to get the influenza vaccine this year to lessen the burden of the flu during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they're emphaszing getting it sooner rather than later.

"I think it's so important for people to not wait for us to hear in the community that we're starting to see a big bump in influenza, but to get those flu shots now," said Dr. Laura McGeorge, the medical director for primary and specialty care at St. Luke’s Health System. She said influenza season can come as early as October.


At a joint-press conference on Tuesday, medical leaders said the flu shot is especially important this year because of COVID-19.


There is both a concern about what would happen if a person is infected with both viruses at the same time, and a concern that with more than one respiratory illness circulating in a community at once, it could overburden the health system. Influenza season is when hospitals and doctors offices tend to be busiest.


"Everyone should be immunized by influenza by the end of October," said Dr. David Peterman, the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group. "I think we would all agree: Get your vaccination now.”


Since August, demand for flu vaccinations at Primary Health clinics is up nearly 50% compared to this time last year.


Dr. Mark Nassir, the president of Saint Alphonsus Health System said if more patients get the flu shot, that could help providers in managing COVID-19.


“Knowing that they've already been immunized and have immunity for influenza, it will be a great help as we try to provide the best treatment possible to all the patients in the community," Nassir said.


Officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said they don't anticipate shortages for flu vaccines this year, as the manufacturers factored in projected increases in demand during the pandemic.


Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen 


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