By CBSLA Staff

TORRANCE (CBSLA) — Thinking about skipping your flu shot this year? Doctors say to think again.

“I always like to say if you’re six months of age or older and breathing, you need a flu shot,” said Dr. Robert N. Glazer,  medical director of the physician network Torrance Memorial Hospital.

Glazer said getting the flu vaccine is now more important than ever to help prevent what some physicians are called a “twindemic” — the overlapping epidemics of both influenza and COVID-19.

“What we don’t know is what is the behavior going to be of the COVID-19 virus,” he said. “It’s a novel virus. We’ve never experienced it during the fall and winter seasons, so we don’t know what’s going to happen. What if there is a huge influx of flu cases along with a surge of COVID?”

There is also the possibility that some people may become infected with the flu and COVID-19 back-to-back or at the same time. Dr. Glazer said this is possible, because they are two distinct viruses.

“People with underlying illnesses are more susceptible to the complications of both of these viruses,” he said. “So seniors, people with underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments like asthma, COPD…”
Dr. Glazer said, with so many unknowns at this point, the key is to eliminate the flu from the equation so doctors can focus on COVID patients. He also points out that, because both influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory viruses and have similar transmission, the protective measures that have been protecting against COVID should also reduce the risk of a “twindemic.”

“So techniques like distancing, masking, and staying away from crowds are equally effective for both disease entities,” he said.

At Torrance Memorial Hospital’s outpatient clinics, they are stockpiling their supply of flu shots. And at the hospital, they’re preparing now for a potential surge of patients.

“In the emergency department, patients with symptoms are isolated off and triaged into a separate examining area,” Glazer said. “In addition, there is a separate facility apart from the emergency department than can handle an influx of ill patients.”

Glazer recommends getting the flu shot early in the season, because it takes a few weeks for the body to build up antibodies.

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