Top health officials warn of bad flu season, urge vaccination

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Top health officials are warning this flu season could be worse than recent years and are urging Americans to get their shots to prevent unnecessary illness or death.

Because there has been intense focus on the spread of COVID-19, doctors fear Americans have forgotten about the threat the flu also poses. They’re urging people to get their flu vaccines as soon as possible.

Dr. Jeb Teichman, a retired pediatrician, says no one should take this flu season for granted. Three years ago, his 29-year-old son died from an unexpected flu infection.

“It can take the life of a healthy young person. And it did. It took my son’s,” he said. “He said he was having trouble breathing, and over the phone I could hear him hyperventilating. … To this day, when I close my eyes at night, I still hear the beeping of those monitors.”

Teichman joined top doctors from across the country on Tuesday to urge Americans to get their flu shot this fall.

“Influenza is indeed unpredictable,” said Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “Prepare for the worse … while we hope for the best.”

Doctors from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say while COVID-19 remains a larger threat, the flu is still deadly and warn this year’s flu season could be worse than previous years.

At Tuesday’s event, top health officials publicly got their flu shots to remind all Americans six months and older to do the same. A recent survey shows that right now, less than half the country is planning to get their shot. Doctors say skipping out is not worth the risk.

CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy said Americans should try and get their shots by the end of October. She added based on a survey conducted on more than 400,000 Americans, it is perfectly fine to get a COVID-19 vaccine and regular flu shot at the same time.