Should I get the flu shot and COVID vaccine? Here’s what you need to know

Health experts warn of ‘twindemic’

ORLANDO, Fla. – When the temperatures start to dip, it’s a good reminder to get your flu shot.

“Within a matter of a month, we’re going to start seeing cases of the flu,” said Dr. Timothy Hendrix, M.D. with AdventHealth Centra Care.

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News 6 is teaming up with Centra Care locations across Central Florida to offer free flu shots during the month of October.

“We’re not going to get a break this year,” Hendrix said.

In 2020, he explained the flu season was mild, likely because of the number of people following social distancing and mask ordinances. But as COVID-19 vaccinations have ramped up in 2021, and masks have dropped, those flu numbers could increase.

“It takes at least two weeks for you to develop those protective antibodies after a flu shot,” Hendrix said, adding you must get a flu shot every year to be protected from the seasonal illness.

There is a predication process when it comes to developing the flu shot. The World Health Organization determines the components of the flu shot each year.

“They look at other countries and look at cases that go throughout the globe to anticipate what we’re going to see,” Hendrix said.

One thing local doctors warn could happen this year is what’s known as a “twindemic” or simultaneous waves of influenza and COVID-19.

“If you get COVID and flu, which we have seen people get both infections, that’s not a good combination. These are two very dangerous viruses and you have a higher risk of hospitalization,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix added that you cannot get the flu from the shot.

“It has parts of the virus, proteins from the virus, that will stimulate a good immune response so you can develop those antibodies, but there’s no way you can get infected from a flu shot,” Hendrix said.

For anyone unvaccinated against COVID-19, Hendrix said it is safe to get both the flu shot and COVID vaccine at the same time.

“We’re hoping that when they come in for their flu shot we can also give them that COVID -9 vaccine at the same time,” Hendrix said.

News 6 is holding a phone bank October 5 from 4-7:30 p.m. with nurses from Centra Care available to answer your questions about the flu shot.