WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Flu season is fast approaching and health experts are warning that people should take steps now to avoid what could be a national catastrophe.
More than 186,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 to date and a vaccine is still in the works. The Trump administration is pushing for a vacicne to be released before November.
“The vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institutes of Health.
Some are concerned approval of a vaccine will be rushed to benefit Trump on election day. But Dr. Fauci said he trusts the approval process but doesn’t expect a release in October.
“That’s unlikely, not impossible. I think most of the people feel it’s going to be November, December,” he said.
However, health experts say there is another vaccine available right now that will make a big difference in how the U.S. health care system is able to handle the pandemic come winter: the flu shot.
“It’s very important to get a flu shot this year,” said Steve Anderson, the president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Anderson said avoiding the flu will help avoid complications from COVID-19.
“We need to do everything we possibly can to make sure our immune systems are not compromised by the flu,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62,000 Americans died and more than half a million were hospitalized during the last flu season.
Anderson said because of the pandemic’s drain on resources like hospital bed and ventilators, the healthcare system can’t handle a flu season like that again this year.
“The pressure will be tremendous,” he said.
Health experts say the potential catastrophe can help be avoided if enough people get their flu shots now.