SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As the Bay Area prepares for the double threat of the flu season and a resurgence of COVID-19, medical experts are urging the public to get a flu shot as soon as possible.
"Some people think that they're healthy, they're young, and it's not going to affect them," said Kamaljit Kaur, a nurse practitioner with Sutter Health. "Well guess what? It doesn't spare anybody."
Sutter Health, which operates dozens of walk-in convenience clinics throughout the Bay Area, says it's easy for community members to swing by to receive their flu vaccine after grabbing coffee or takeout in the area. Appointments are accepted, but not required in advance.
"It's $22 dollars if you don't have any insurance and it's $64 dollars for a high-dose vaccine," said Kaur.
The vaccine becomes effective roughly two weeks after you receive it. Experts say the strains of influenza that are circulating in the community can change over time, so it's important to get vaccinated every year. Santa Clara County officials will be offering free flu shots on Saturdays at the fairgrounds in San Jose through mid-December.
"What the flu vaccine will do is prevent you from ending up in the hospital, and making sure that we have hospital availability for those who do have COVID and get very sick," said county executive Jeff Smith.
While the length of protection varies from person-to-person, health experts say getting a flu shot can help for up to six months at a time.
"If people continue in doing the same COVID prevention measures of distancing, handwashing, and masking that they are now for COVID, then we should have a much more milder flu season than we normally do," said Dr. Anne Lu, an infectious disease expert at Stanford School of Medicine.
In fact, Liu says there are lower than normal flu rates in the Southern Hemisphere right now, which helps gauge what we could see in the states this fall. But she says that's still no excuse not to get vaccinated.
Liu added, "The interaction between COVID and influenza is not yet that well understand, but we have every reason to suspect that if they were to happen together in the same person, it could be much more severe, much more complicated, (and) much more difficult to treat."
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