UNC doctor says getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever before

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – With the fall season right around the corner, North Carolina health experts highly recommend families get the flu vaccine this year.

Right now, doctors are preparing for how they will handle the coronavirus and the flu.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Dr. Amir Barzin, a family medicine physician at UNC, says the flu season runs from September to March with an uptick in cases in December, January, and February.

“What we do know is that studies that have been done show that those who have received the flu vaccine have a lesser chance of being in the ICU setting, so as a medical team it does give us a level to work off of,” Barzin said.

He said people that get the annual flu vaccine tend to do better if they are hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. Barzin said it’s even more important for people who have chronic diseases to get the flu vaccine.

“My message has been pretty much the same the whole time. What we want to try and do is temper the spread of any contagion out there whether it’s flu, COVID, or etc.,” he said.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said 186 died from the illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the advisory committee on immunization practices has not voted on the flu vaccine recommendations for 2020-2021 and says July or August is too early to get vaccinated, especially for older people, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu infection later in the season.

The CDC said September and October are good times to get vaccinated and recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

How you get the flu vaccine may change because of the pandemic. The CDC is working with healthcare providers and state and local health departments to develop contingency plans on how to vaccinate people against flu without increasing their risk of exposure to respiratory germs, like the virus that causes COVID-19.

Here is more information from the CDC.

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