Flu shots in a pandemic - what parents should know in 2020

RVA Parenting: Flu Shots in a pandemic: What to know in 2020

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Flu shot season is underway amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While lots of kids are at home instead of classrooms, and many are carefully following social distancing guidelines, so here is what experts say you need to know.

Patient First Medical Director, Melissa Aquilo even if you’re working and learning from home and social distancing with a mask, you still need the flu vaccine.

"Because even if they’re home getting virtual instruction, you’re still going to the grocery stores. You’re still coming in contact with other people. Even as careful as you are, you can still come in contact with any virus,” said Aquilo.

Many locations are offering flu shots, including pediatricians, Target and Publix are offering gift cards, and Patient First has flu shots, too.

If you’re worried about exposure to people getting tested for COVID-19 as you come in, here’s how that’s getting handled.

“If they are flu shot patients, they are fast-tracked, they are not kept in the center for very long," said Aquilo. "All they see is a nurse, not one of the providers. So they are seen very quickly and discharged very quickly, as well.”

How bad this year’s flu will be is anyone’s guess, but there are lots of new factors to consider. Health officials say the worst-case scenario, is worse than what we would normally deal with because of the pandemic.

“I think we could easily overwhelm the medical system if we have a really bad flu season. And you want to reduce your risks of getting something severe," said Aquilo. "And there’s always the potential of getting both at the same time. Although, hopefully, that’ll be a rare occurrence.”

Aquilo says to get the shot before the end of October if you can, but the vaccine still useful at any point during flu season, which stretches for months. It’s recommended for anyone over 6 months old.

The viruses may present very similarly, but here’s a note you might want to take as a parent.

“Both can give you fever, chills, fatigue, body ache, sore throat, congestion and a cough, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea," said Aquilo. "The flu tends to start more abruptly than COVID does. It tends to come on over a few days, but they are very similar.”

The hope is that masking and social distancing will mean the flu is not as bad this year.

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