The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment urged citizens on Wednesday to reduce the spread of seasonal flu by getting flu shots.
“A surge in seasonal flu while the pandemic is still a factor could seriously strain our hospitals and other resources,” said Robert McDonald, DDPHE executive director, in a statement. “The number-one way to avoid getting the flu is to get that flu shot, which is available right now.”
Because COVID-19 and the flu have some similar symptoms, people with symptoms likely will not be able to tell the difference and will require testing to confirm a diagnosis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this influx of testing could put a burden on testing capacity.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months old or older get a flu shot. It is recommended to get the shot in September or October; however, being vaccinated at any time during the flu season will provide protection.
While most people who get the flu recover in less than two weeks, some develop complications that can be life-threatening.
From Oct. 1, 2019, to April 4, 2020, between 39 million and 56 million people got the flu, according to the CDC. This resulted in 18 million to 26 million medical visits, 410,000 to 740,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 to 62,000 deaths.
DDPHE recommends taking the following steps to protect against the seasonal flu:
- Get a flu shot
- Practice preventative measures
- Practice hand washing and sanitation
- Take antiviral medications as prescribed by a doctor, preferably within two days of becoming ill
More information and resources regarding the seasonal flu are available on the DDPHE’s website.