Doctors kick off early push for flu shot: 'This is the time to start getting prepared'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With COVID-19 still a threat, doctors are making an early push for people to get their flu shots.

"We'd like to make sure we don't have flu patients competing with COVID-19 patients for hospital beds," said Dr. David Callender, the CEO and President of the Memorial Hermann Health System. "If we can prevent cases of the flu or decrease their intensity by having people take the flu vaccine, it takes pressure off of all of us."

On Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner also joined in on the push.

"I intend to get tested for COVID-19 and also to get my flu shot," said the mayor during an afternoon news conference.

The Texas Medical Center saw hospitalizations from COVID-19 peak during the month of July. Doctors said they want to prevent another surge.

"This is the time to start getting prepared to vaccinate our population," said Dr. Pedro Piedra, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Piedra also warned against trying to self-diagnose.

"What I would suggest is you don't try to differentiate between influenza and [COVID.] There are many respiratory viruses that will give you the same symptoms and that is fever and malaise and not feeling good and feeling achy, sore throat, cough, congested all those type of symptoms," he said.

If exposed to COVID-19, Piedra suggests getting tested for it so that a patient is diagnosed and correctly treated.

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