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Why it's more important than ever to get the flu shot this year

COVID-19 and flu patients use similar resources, meaning hospitals could be overwhelmed if enough people aren't vaccinated against the flu this winter.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doctors are asking everyone to get their flu shot as soon as possible, saying it's more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So why is it such a big deal this year? According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the flu can be a serious and sometimes deadly disease. They say getting your flu shot can prevent someone from getting really sick and taking up a bed when hospitals are still dealing with COVID-19 patients. 

Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, an infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic, said overwhelming hospitals is a real concern for health systems right now, as flu and COVID-19 patients use the same resources. 

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"You need the same kinds of resources for influenza and COVID," Sampathkumar said. "You need medical ICUs, you need ventilators, you need oxygen. That's why we're doing this, talking about flu vaccines, hoping to avoid this twindemic."

The CDC recommends getting the flu shot in September or October. They say ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. NCDHHS says flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring in North Carolina, with the peak usually coming in January or February. 

The good news is doctors say patients can get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time

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