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Albany hospital preps for upcoming flu season

The flu vaccine is available for people ages 6 months to 65-year-old.
The flu vaccine is available for people ages 6 months to 65-year-old.(WALB)
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 6:49 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Flu season is around the corner, starting around mid-September.

A spokesperson from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital said since the hospital has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, the same could happen with the flu.

A faculty physician at Phoebe, Dr. Aakar Thacker, said they are preparing for flu season by getting all the vaccines and testing resources they need.

Dr. Aakar Thaker, faculty physician at the Phoebe Family Residence Program
Dr. Aakar Thaker, faculty physician at the Phoebe Family Residence Program(WALB)

Thacker said there’s also a push to get more patients vaccinated as soon as they come in the door, rather than waiting for them to bring it up to their physician in exam rooms.

Like COVID-19, Dr. Thaker said the flu can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seasonal flu kills anywhere from 300,000 to 650,000 people worldwide. The one exception was in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Thaker attributed this to people washing their hands, wearing masks and quarantining when they were sick.

“The flu definitely kills a lot of people. we don’t hear about it as much because you’re so used to having those numbers,” said Dr. Thaker.

Even though COVID-19 and the flu can result in hospitalization, having the two at once could put patients at an even higher risk.

“For the unvaccinated COVID patients and unvaccinated flu patients, that would be the most severe cases. Depending on the risk factors, your age and other conditions, you are probably at a higher risk for ending up in the ICU from the flu or a combination of both,” explained Thaker.

Thacker said those vaccinated against both have a much lower risk of ending up in the hospital.

The flu vaccine is safe for ages starting at 6 months to 65-years-old. Those who are older than 65 or those with health complications get a stronger dose.

“The way to prevent death is pretty much similar to any vaccine really, it primes your body to fight off the infection a little bit faster and earlier so that it doesn’t get the time to affect any of your organs in your body,” said Dr. Thaker.

Thacker said getting vaccinated can also keep you out of an ICU or from needing additional medical care.

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