‘COVID-19 may help us this flu season’ Tampa Bay area doctor says pandemic preps may make flu season ‘lighter’

Coronavirus

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Floridians are facing one heck of a fall, and the circumstances are certainly unique.

In the midst of a pandemic, as a dangerous virus is running rampant around the globe, there’s yet another worry to add to the list – and the sunshine state, in particular, is in the cross-hairs when it comes to being a target.

Amid the pandemic and also hurricane season, we’re now just weeks away from the start of flu season, beginning in October.

But, before you get too worried, there is promising news on the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic may end up helping us.

“It’s hard to predict,” said Dr. Paul Nanda. “My best guess now is we might have a lighter flu season.”

Dr. Nanda is the chief medical officer for TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track. He says all ten locations throughout the Tampa Bay area have been packed during the pandemic.

However, he is also quick to point out the recent drop in cases.

“Right now, in Tampa, we saw that surge, late June, early July,’ Dr. Nanda told us. “That surge has dropped off a little bit, so now probably hospitals, more than ever, are prepared with physical space and capacity.”

So, how is it that a pandemic can actually help our approaching flu season?

The safety measures being taken during the COVID-19 pandemic will benefit the population, according to the longtime Tampa physician.

“People are masking up, they’re not going out when they’re sick. We’re washing our hands more,” Dr. Nanda explained.

Dr. Nanda’s biggest piece of advice is do not skip the flu shot! With that in mind, 8 On Your Side wanted to know when people should get the shot.

Dr. Nanda says the beginning of October is the sweet spot since the shot takes roughly two weeks to be effective.

“Prevention is really the best medicine. so if you can do anything to protect yourself, this is one of the things you can do,” he said.

And, as it turns out, there’s a very important question you should ask your doctor prior to getting your flu shot.

Dr. Nanda suggests posing this question to your physician. “Does this cover three strains or four strains? You want the one that covers four strains,” he maintains.

Most flu shots, on average, will run 25 dollars. Some are free with insurance.

This year, more than ever, says Dr. Nanda, is crucial when it comes to getting the flu shot.

For people who may be on the fence, going back and forth as they debate their options on getting the shot or not, Dr. Nanda offers the following advice.

“If you can do anything to safeguard yourself, I think you should do it.”

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