Mayo Clinic doctor says getting flu shot is 'doubly important' amid ongoing pandemic

The flu shots have become a rite of fall, although many people don’t get them. This year, a leading Mayo Clinic doctor says you should.

“This year it’s doubly important because the symptoms of influenza and the symptoms of COVID are very hard to tell apart,” said Mayo Clinic Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Priya Sampathkumar.

The symptoms are typically a fever, sore throat, muscle aches and pains. It could either be the flu or COVID-19.

“And we treat those two things differently,” said Sampathkumar. “There is medications for influenza, there’s no medications for COVID. The testing will be somewhat limited come fall. So, it’s important if you get the flu vaccine you won’t get influenza, you won’t be presenting for care, you won’t be stressing the medical system.”

The medical community is still waiting on a proven vaccine for the coronavirus. Health Partners announced it will recruit 1,500 patients for a Phase Three trial of a potential vaccine developed by Oxford University and led by the pharmaceutical company Astra-Zeneca. Dr. Sampathkumar believes it’s optimistic to expect a COVID-19 vaccine by November, but emphases the scientific research is not cutting corners.

“So, the COVID vaccines are going through the same process as other vaccines,” said Sampathkumar. “Because of the enormous impact of COVID, and for that reason governments have been funding vaccine research, funding vaccine trials, everything has been sped up because of the fact that funding is available.”

In the meantime, Dr. Sampathkumar is imploring people to get their flu shots so that you don’t get sick and strain an already stressed healthcare system.