Doctor: ‘It is critically important to get the flu vaccine this year’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As we head into winter, one of the biggest concerns is the collision between seasonal flu and the coronavirus.

It’s what the medical community is calling a “twindemic.”

Dr. Sunil Joshi, of the Duval County Medical Society, said Duval County is one of 11 in the state seeing an increase in flu cases.

Fortunately, though, there’s something we can do about that. No one likes to get a shot, but getting vaccinated against the seasonal flu is vital.

“It is critically important to get the flu vaccine this year as much as any other year, mainly because we want to keep people out of the hospital,” Joshi said. “And if you start to add those folks into the hospital also, you’ll start to see our health care systems overwhelmed like they were in New York City earlier this year. And that’s, ultimately, the goal, is to not let that happen.”

If you start getting flu-like symptoms, you might not know if you have the flu or if you have COVID-19.

“It is almost impossible to tell the difference until you get tested for one or the other,” Joshi said.

So far, Joshi said, we’re doing pretty well with flu vaccinations. In a typical year in Northeast Florida, he said, almost 37% of our population gets vaccinated, and, as of last Monday, we are already up to nearly 35%. The goal though is to hit 48%.

But cost can be an issue. According to Joshi, about 100,000 people in Northeast Florida are uninsured.

“For these folks, getting the flu vaccine may be cost-prohibitive, and so we want to minimize that as much as possible,” he said.

The way to do that is on the FluVaxJax website.

“There’s a place for you to go if you have no insurance where you can sign in with your email and your ZIP code, and we will send you a free vaccine voucher,” explained Joshi.

The website will also give you the name of a participating pharmacy that’s in or close to your ZIP code.

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