TAMPA, Florida – Leading doctors are urging people with COVID-19 symptoms to request a rapid flu test in addition to screening for SARS-CoV-2. Medical providers say influenza and COVID-19 can coexist.
Doctors say some of the symptoms, such as fever, shortness of breath, and cough, occur in both flu and COVID-19. So it’s important that we get near the peak of the Florida flu season to get tested for both.
“People might say, ‘Hey, I have a flu test and I’m done. That’s all I need and I don’t have to worry about COVID,” said Dr. Nishant Anand, BayCare’s chief medical officer. “But we see in the medical literature that people can actually have both flu and COVID.”
This is because health care providers encourage those six months and older, with a few rare exceptions, to get vaccinated against the flu.
They say that despite COVID-19 concerns, it’s safe to get a flu shot and that this could help keep the hospital emergency room from being overwhelmed by both flu and COVID-19 cases at the same time.
“You don’t want to have the flu on top of COVID that weighs on the medical community and especially the health system, that’s number one,” Anand said. “Number two is that the flu vaccine has a relatively safe profile. We’ve been doing this for years.”
This emerges from the latest Florida Department of Health report that while there have been reports of symptoms of COVID-19 in emergency rooms, reports of flu symptoms are on the rise.
Last month, there were still few cases of flu reported in Florida as of week 40 of the state’s weekly flu report.
Most insured persons can get their flu vaccination free of charge at any doctor’s office or pharmacy that offers vaccinations. Without insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere from $ 40 to $ 60 for this year’s vaccination.
The Florida Department of Health has a list of places you can go Find a flu shot near you.