Doctors urge COVID-19 and flu vaccines ahead of holidays, as flu cases surge

As hospitals and emergency rooms fill up amid a surge of flu cases, doctors are warning people to get vaccinated for that and COVID-19, especially ahead of the holiday season. The flu is already hitting hard, with 22 states and Washington, D.C., reporting high levels of activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also said the hospitalization rate for flu is at the highest for this early in the season in a decade.

Dr. Daniel Guzman, of Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, said the one-two punch of RSV — a respiratory illness common in children — and flu cases has filled up his emergency room. He added that the rate of cases in the hospital nearly doubled in the last week from 172 to almost 338 flu patients.

It’s why doctors are urging people to get vaccinated. Andrew Talbot, a Massachusetts teacher, said he got his COVID-19 booster before he travels to see his immunocompromised mother for the holidays.

“I’m aware of the fact that there is, you know, COVID that comes and goes in waves,” he told CBS News. “And especially with her being on immunosuppression drugs, I didn’t want to risk bringing anything home.”

But, only 10% of people age 5 and older have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine and just 21% of adults say they’ve been vaccinated against the flu, according to the CDC.

“You’re protecting your entire bubble of your family members,” Guzman said about getting vaccinated. “You know, those that are really old to those that are really young. And so it’s really important that we do as much as we can to help protect them.”

To stay safe this holiday season, experts advise to get vaccinated, consider a “mini-quarantine” the week before traveling, testing before gathering and staying home if you feel sick.

“Never too late to get a flu shot,” Guzman said. “I think we have to stress it’s an important thing to help protect yourself as well as everyone around you, that everyone goes out and get a flu shot.”

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