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Health officials balance flu season alongside COVID-19 surge

“Hopefully, it’ll be a milder flu season but again, it’s dependent on our behaviors,” said Shankar Kurra, the vice president of medical affairs for Monument Health.
Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 6:10 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Earlier this year, we spoke with doctors about the importance of getting the flu vaccine.

But as COVID cases continue to be high in South Dakota and the flu virus begins to mix in, a Monument Health doctor shares what they expect to see this influenza season.

“Hopefully, it’ll be a milder flu season but again, it’s dependent on our behaviors,” said Shankar Kurra, the vice president of medical affairs for Monument Health. “It all comes down to if we can do the right thing and stop spreads by contact, both the flu and SARS COVID 2 or COVID-19 as we know it.”

Kurra says the flu shot is as important as ever.

“What you do not want to have is the flu and the COVID and you can have both diseases at the same time, we call it a co-infection,” said Kurra. “Very dangerous.”

And as we’ve heard with COVID, those with underlying diseases, are more at risk for the flu as well.

“Especially folks that have diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, any disease that they have rheumatological conditions, or even cancer, they are at high risk,” said Kurra. “So, it’s very important for folks to get the influenza vaccination. Get your flu shot.”

There may be a positive medical outcome thanks to COVID, the flu may be diagnosed sooner.

“We’re going to be seeing that,” said Kurra. “Lots of folks are aware of the symptoms of COVID and they are very similar to the flu so we will catch them earlier which might be a good thing but really what we want to focus on is prevention.”

Kurra said the prevention measures for the flu are similar to those of COVID, wearing a mask, washing our hands, and staying diligent on CDC recommended guidelines.

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