‘More important than ever’ to get flu shot, doctors say

As summer draws to an end, an infectious disease specialist tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it’s time to schedule your flu shot.

"I think that’s important," Dr. Frank Rhame, with Allina Health, said. "This year it’s more important than ever to get [a flu shot] early because influenza [is] unpredictable."

With very few cases compared to a usual flu season, Rhame said we didn’t have much of a flu season last year, which is causing uncertainty about what this year will bring.

"It did something really weird last year and what’s going to happen this year is very unpredictable," Rhame added about the unusual flu season in 2020.

He’s also worried about the increase in vaccine hesitancy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and its impact on people getting vaccinated against the flu. In a time when health systems are getting pushed harder than ever before, protecting yourself against both illnesses is crucial.

"It’s not as bad as the south, but it’s plenty bad. Our ICUs are full, our young people are getting [COVID-19], young people are dying," Rhame said about current COVID-19 conditions in the state.

He said it’s safe to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time – whether that’s because you have not received a COVID-19 vaccination, or it’s time for your booster shot, one could get them during the same appointment.

As for a vaccination that has a combination of both vaccines – recently mentioned by ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton in an interview as something that’s in the works – Dr. Rhame says it’s a possibility for the future but not for this flu season as more studies need to be done on the combo shot.

The Minnesota Department of Health can help schedule flu and COVID-19 vaccine shots.