‘About four times what we saw this time last year’: Flu vaccine requests on the rise

Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s that time of year again, flu shot season! But with COVID-19 in the mix this year, the demand for the vaccine has increased exponentially.

At Patient First locations across the Richmond area, they say they’re seeing nearly four times the number for flu vaccinations.

Now through the end of October, Dr. Melissa Aquilo of Patient First says you should get your flu vaccine ahead of the flu season.

“We anticipated a high demand and so we have stocked up, so we have plenty,” said Dr. Aquilo.

Richmond and Henrico Health Department Director Dr. Danny Avula said there may be a strain on the vaccine production.

“There may be a strain on flu vaccine production because we’re also trying to build the machinery for COVID vaccine protection, that has not impacted the initial distribution of the vaccination,” said Dr. Avula.

Aquilo says she’s scared to see what this year brings.

“We’re anticipating a rough season between Influenza and COVID-19, and we’re hoping to ameliorate the Influenza impact,” said Aquilo.

She says one challenge this season will be that COVID-19 and the flu have very similar symptoms.

“Fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, congestion, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.”

A big difference is how long it takes for symptoms to show. Patient First says it can take anywhere between two to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear, while the flu may cause symptoms right away. COVID may also cause you to lose your sense of taste or smell.

The City of Richmond is also hosting four flu vaccination events; the first one will be Oct. 2 in the Southwood Community from 4-6 p.m.

Patient First recommends flu vaccination for anyone over the age of six months.

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