Atrium Health doctor urges flu shots ahead of mid-pandemic flu season

COVID-19 to create complicated flu season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As playgrounds reopen and summer turns to fall, coronavirus is not the only illness on peoples' minds.

“I’m more discerning about who we’re with and where we go," mother Leath Henderson said.

Henderson homeschools her 7 year old, preventing him from catching the flu at school.

Dr. Katie Passaretti, medical director of infection prevention at Atrium Health, is still urging everyone to get a flu shot.

“It’s always important but it’s extremely important this year," Dr. Passaretti said. "Think about it early, get vaccinated.”

Many health care providers including Atrium Health will offer drive up flu shots, similar to COVID-19 testing sites.

Health experts are preparing for the unknown.

“Increased hospitalizations in people that have both covid and flu infection, or survivors of covid that have had lung damage that then get flu, and just the usual covid hospitalizations themselves," Dr. Passaretti said.

Symptoms can be identical.

“Fever, you’re gonna have a throbbing body aches, sweats," she said.

She anticipates more testing than ever to offer a correct diagnosis.

They also hope more people will get a flu shot. Year after year, Dr. Passaretti has to debunk the myth that getting the shot gives you the flu.

“The shot is killed virus, it cannot replicate, it can’t cause disease," she said. "It’s bits of the virus that invoke an immune response.”

Dr. Passaretti says here in Charlotte we are prepared with adequate testing capabilities and hospital capacity.

She says the best time to get a flu shot is end of Septembe or early October, and even earlier if you have a child under eight years old who will need two shots.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.