Expert Pitch
University of California San Diego Health

Why Getting a Flu Shot This Year is Critical

No one knows what will happen when flu season arrives, compounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing is certain: It’s time to get your flu shot 

The looming flu season poses the prospect of a “twindemic,” with the diseases converging to create an unprecedented public health threat. Experts at UC San Diego Health can offer perspective on what to expect, how seasonal influenza and COVID-19 differ in diagnosis and treatment, and most importantly, how to prepare. Hint: Get vaccinated for the flu now! 

Topics of DiscussionDiagnosing which is which: flu or COVID-19

  • Differences in treatment 

Michele Ritter, MD, infectious disease specialist and director of the COVID-19 outpatient clinic

  • Treating COVID-19 and the flu, especially at home 

Francesca Torriani, MD, program director of Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology

  • COVID-19 and influenza as public health threats
  • Importance of vaccinations
  • Who should be vaccinated for the flu 

Amy Bellinghausen, MD, pulmonologist

  • Comparative impact of flu and COVID-19 upon the respiratory system 

Davey Smith, MD, translational research virologist and head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine

  • General status of COVID-19 vaccination efforts 

Pascal Gagneux, PhD, professor of pathology and evolutionary biologist

  • Evolutionary history and behaviors of viruses 

“We don’t know how the convergence of the flu and COVID-19 will affect people,” said Torriani. “We don’t yet know whether there is greater or lesser risk of infection for one or the other disease — or what the risk of co-infection might be. What we can say is that the populations at risk for severe disease and death are the same, and so you want to avoid any infection that can be mitigated by vaccination.”

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