Health experts say flu vaccine may be more important this year than ever

In Pinellas County, cars lined up early.

“This is our seventh annual Flu Boo,” explained Jalysa Erskine with the Pinellas County Department of Health.

The Flu Boo is a yearly push to get folks vaccinated for influenza before Halloween. This year, the drive-through clinic spans three nights, and the shots are completely free.

“We want to make sure that we do protect our community against influenza, it does affect small children, elderly adults,” Erskine said.

Last year’s flu season started early and spread fast. This time around, we have influenza hitting during a worldwide pandemic. Medical experts don’t exactly know what the impacts will be from the two viruses co-circulating.

“So it could very well be that influenza virus infection might pre-dispose you to getting infected with the coronavirus,” said Dr. Michael Teng with USF Health.

There is actually a lot of overlap between the flu and COVID-19 in the way they spread, and how your body reacts.

Only the flu has a safe and effective vaccine readily available now, so experts urge you to get it.

Experts warn of ‘twindemic’ as flu season approaches during the coronavirus pandemic

Experts are warning us of a so-called impending “twindemic”, the flu hitting us as we continue to battle COVID-19.

“This year you really want to prevent yourself from getting influenza because the symptoms of influenza infection are basically the same as the coronavirus infection,” Teng said. “And so you can’t really tell whether, which virus you’ve gotten.”

The only real way to know which virus you contracted is to be tested. If you have already had your flu shot and then you get sick, it is most likely the coronavirus.

“This gives me a delineation line between you know what my symptoms, if I did have anything, might be, and it just keeps me healthy,” said Melinda Woods after getting her vaccination.

During the first two nights of Flu Boo the Department of Health provided 264 vaccines.

The final drive-through event is Thursday night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Clearwater Health Department at 310 N Myrtle Avenue.