As we prepare for the collision of flu season with the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors are urging the public to get the flu shot.
"If you go to your doctor or to the emergency room or to any provider, and you have fever, cough and aches and pains, right away we have to try to separate which one is it," said Dr. Luther Rhodes, infectious diseases specialist at Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Dr. Rhodes says the vaccine will be critical in diagnosing patients this fall and winter, lessening confusion between two viruses with very similar symptoms.
"It's important for you to be able to say 'I have these symptoms but oh by the way I had my flu vaccine.' That will help you and your doctor try to figure out what next," said Dr. Rhodes.
The vaccine protects against influenza for about six months so it's recommended children begin getting the shot this month, and adults start in October.
"The flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick into gear so the sooner you get it, the better things are gonna go," said Dr. Rhodes.
Doctors speculate flu season could be mild this year because of extra precautions many are taking against COVID-19, like wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.
"Because of COVID, I think we're all paying a lot more attention to prevention," said Dr. Rhodes.
But they want to prepare for the worst, as health experts warn about hospitals becoming overwhelmed as we fight both viruses. They say the more people who get a flu shot, the better.
"I wouldn't delay this year, I think it's a good investment in what is for sure going to be a confusing couple of months ahead of us," said Dr. Rhodes.
And to those who may be hesistant about getting the shot? Dr. Rhodes has one message.
"Quit sitting on the fence, get your vaccine," he said.