NH officials stress need for flu shots

  • FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. The flu forecast is cloudy and it’s too soon to know if the U.S. is in for a third miserable season in a row, but health officials said Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 not to delay vaccination. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Concord Monitor
Published: 8/18/2020 9:10:01 PM
Modified: 8/18/2020 9:09:53 PM

As fall approaches, health officials are worried about an unprecedented flu season in which two potentially deadly respiratory illnesses would stress the same limited health care resources.

Getting a flu shot is important now more than ever, state officials say, because the health care system can’t handle two simultaneous outbreaks.

Complicating the issue is that while the flu and COVID-19 are different, they present almost identical symptoms in patients. Beth Daly, the chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control in New Hampshire, said there is virtually no way to distinguish between the two illnesses based on symptoms alone.

She said during the summer, someone with a respiratory illness could be easily identified and tested as a COVID-19 patient. Once the flu season begins, diagnosis becomes more complicated. More cases of the flu mean that more resources and effort will have to be expended to test them for COVID-19.

The CDC recently developed a test that checks for both the various flu strains and the novel coronavirus, which will be made available to public health laboratories. Daly said she expects the test to be available in the fall.

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