Monterey County’s four hospitals have joined forces again to talk about COVID-19, but this time with a caveat -- flu season is almost here.
In a virtual briefing, medical experts from Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Mee Memorial and Natividad all urged the public to go get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.
Dr. Martha Blum from CHOMP said influenza can cause severe disease. In some years, deaths have surpassed 60,000 in the U.S. She added that symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can overlap, such as fever, shortness of breath, dry cough and body aches.
“There’s really not going to be any definitive way to tell whether your symptoms are from influenza or coronavirus unless you get a test done,” said Blum.
She said one key difference is that influenza has a very rapid onset, which is not typical with COVID-19.
Carla Spencer, a registered nurse with Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, said we are, though, at an advantage this year.
“All the things that we’ve been doing for COVID will also help us with combating the flu virus as well and that’s masking and washing your hands and maintaining physical distance," said Spencer.
All four hospitals said they have enough PPE and beds to handle both coronavirus and influenza cases, adding that those who are severely sick should not avoid coming into the hospital.
Craig Walls, Chief Medical Officer at Natividad, said the emergency departments of all four hospitals are safe places to be.
Flu season typically lasts locally from the end of October to the end of April.
Natividad, CHOMP and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System are some of KAZU’s many business supporters.