Pandemic presents added challenge with upcoming flu season

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 10:53 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, other seasonal illnesses aren’t going to go away. Already, local clinic report seeing flu cases, weeks ahead of the usual start to cold and flu season.

Wichita Family Medicine Specialists Dr. Deb Outwater said this flu season could be a tricky one with some similar symptoms for the flu and COVID-19.

“Body aches, high fever, shaking chills, coughing. Up until you know, last February, that was always influenza until proven otherwise. It’s a little more complicated now,” Dr. Outwater said.

While Dr. Outwater hasn’t seen flu cases yet, she has seen plenty of COVID-19.

“There’s no question it’s out there,” she said.

Dr. Outwater said this year, Wichita Family Medical Specialists will offer a drive-through flu-vaccine clinic for their patients. Doctors say if you think it’s too early to get your vaccine, think again.

“If I get a positive influenza, do I assume it’s not COVID, or could we see both of them simultaneously? So, I think it’s going to be a challenging year for us, which is why we’re going to be strongly recommending that you get a flu vaccine,” Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns said.

Dr. Outwater said Sedgwick County might already be seeing flu cases because people who are sick are likely getting screened for COVID-19 and finding out they actually have the flu. But she said right now, don’t make that assumption.

“You know in the past you might say, ’oh this is the flu, I’m not going to worry about it,” Dr. Outwater said. “I would make that phone call and have a conversation with someone else so we don’t inadvertently spread it.”

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