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Experts: if there's ever a year to get the flu vaccine, this is the year

Doctors with the Infectious Diseases Society of America caution against letting our guard down as flu season gets closer.

TAMPA, Fla. — We are keeping a close eye on Florida's coronavirus numbers, especially as we get ready to head into flu season. Health experts are concerned about how the season will go. 

More people are gathering and getting tired of the masks and distancing. But health experts say those things could have a huge impact on the flu season.

One concern is how similar symptoms are of flu and COVID-19. Thursday during a panel with the Infectious Disease Society of America on this topic, the example was given: what if someone goes to an urgent care center with symptoms? They'd need a flu test and a COVID-19 test. 

The suggestion? Give patients the message of treat yourself as if you have coronavirus, take precautions like quarantining and that could drive down flu rates. But that comes with a concern about testing.

"My concern is that the system could become rapidly overwhelmed and individual clinicians are going to be faced with a lot of challenges trying to figure out how to get both those tests done in a timely fashion," says Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor in the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Doctors say if there was ever a year to get the flu vaccine, this is the time. They said you certainly don't want to get coronavirus if you're battling another virus – which by the way, they say has happened in the southern hemisphere which has gone through flu season. 

But this brings up people's fears about going to a doctor's office or hospital. They said remember you can safely do so; and if you're hesitant, you can go to a grocery store or pharmacy and get one.

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