NORFOLK, Va. - Health officials stress with COVID-19 and the flu possibly spreading at the same time this winter, getting a flu shot may help reduce the stress on the healthcare system.
"Influenza is one of those surprises. Most of the time we think about it in respect to when we had it growing up. Yeah you’re in bed for a few days but it kills a lot of people every year," Tracey Odachowski said, the director of Infection Prevention and Control for Sentara Healthcare.
Health officials say wearing a mask not only prevents the spread of COVID-19, but also the flu.
"We did not have a big influenza caseload across the country last year because so many of us were masked and not really out in public much due to the pandemic."
According to the CDC, between 9 million and 40 million people develop influenza each year in the United States.
"The flu is spread by airborne particles. Very similar to how COVID is spread. COVID is just a little heavier. The masks definitely help."
The Director of Infection Prevention and Control for Sentara Healthcare recommends getting your flu shot.
"A lot of people think I don’t need to get my flu shot because I’ll be wearing the mask. That’s not the case. It definitely helps but you want to give your body a great protection it can take," Odachowski said.