Aug 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus

Surgeon General sits in front of a microphone

Surgeon General Jerome Adams the American Red Cross National Headquarters on July 30. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday stressed the importance of Americans getting flu vaccines for the next influenza season, noting that the country has "been backsliding in terms of vaccine confidence over the last several years."

Why it matters: A bad flu season could put even more strain on the country's health system resources, which are especially limited in domestic coronavirus epicenters like Florida and California.

What he's saying: "This is the most important flu season that we've faced in, I'd say my lifetime. And it really is going to be important for two reasons. As you mentioned, we don't want the double whammy of our ICUs being overwhelmed with flu cases, in addition to COVID-19 cases, but we also need to socialize the idea of vaccinations," Adams said on SirusXM.

  • "We've been backsliding in terms of vaccine confidence over the last several years. We almost lost our measles eradication status last year as a country."
  • "So we really need to understand that 50% of adults slightly under that get their flu vaccine in any given year. ... And if we have that level of compliance for COVID vaccine, then it doesn't matter how effective or how safe this vaccine is, it's still not going to help us stop this outbreak."
  • "And I am hopeful. I'm hopeful that because of coronavirus, we may actually see vaccine uptake increase across the country, particularly for vaccinations like the flu vaccine."

Go deeper: How to avoid dueling outbreaks of coronavirus and flu

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