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Influx of Illness: The start of flu season is right around the corner

Health experts expect a normal flu season this year. They said last year, influenza was historically low because people were wearing masks and social distancing.

NORFOLK, Va. — COVID-19 is not the only virus people should try and protect themselves from this year: Hampton Roads health experts say it’s time for people to get their flu shot.

“I’ve never got the flu shot, and I’ve never gotten the flu,” Ceniyah Hubbard said.

Hubbard is a student at Old Dominion University. She said she is fully vaccinated against COVID, but has no plans on getting a flu shot this year.

“I’m more worried about COVID than the flu, honestly. I feel like that has become more of a bigger issue. The flu is still relevant, but I feel like COVID has kind of overpowered it,” Hubbard explained.

Dr. John Snellings, an Eastern Virginia Medical School Family and Community Medicine physician, said now is not the time to let your guard down.

“Influenza is a very dangerous disease, and we need to take it seriously. People are very commonly hospitalized because of the flu and people die from the flu,” he said.

CDC data from the first week of September shows most states have minimal spread of the flu. However, Virginia and North Carolina are seeing slightly higher levels of influenza.

 “I think we are definitely going to see a flu season that’s close to what we consider a normal flu season," Snellings said.

Snellings is encouraging people to get both a COVID and flu shot. He said there is a small chance people could get both viruses at once.

“That’s one of the reasons why it’s recommended to get vaccinated against both,” he explained. “To protect your body having two very serious viruses working their effect on your body at once, which we haven’t seen too many cases of, and we aren’t really sure how a body will handle that.”

Snellings said people can get COVID and flu vaccines at the same time without experiencing more symptoms than they would if they only got one at a time. 

The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get the flu shot.