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Health experts encourage people to remain vigilant against the flu

On top of getting your flu shot, experts say we need to treat this flu season like we're trying to flatten the curve exactly how we did with COVID-19.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — "Flatten the curve." It's a phrase you've heard over and over again since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Coastal Bend in March. The prevention mantra dropped off a bit as our COVID-19 cases have continued to decline.

However, we're still not in the clear just yet, and concern amongst health care providers is only growing as we head into flu season. All for good reason -- Nueces County Health Director Annette Rodriguez said COVID-19 and the flu is a "perfect storm." In fact, we've already seen a local case of a person being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

Now, flu season doesn't work on a calendar. It's based on when we usually start to see an uptick in cases, which is in the fall and winter months. Like with COVID-19, Rodriguez said she has been tracking infections in the northern parts of the country to get an idea of when we might see our uptick locally.

"First it was 34 additional states are starting to notice an uptick. Now we're at 39 additional states are noticing an uptick because of flu season," Rodriguez said.

That uptick in flu cases is happening at the same time those northern states are starting to see a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Rodriguez added that this is why the conversation surrounding vaccines is so important. While a vaccine for COVID-19 is not available just yet, experts are saying to get your flu shot now to get ahead of the "perfect storm."

"It's the public health strategies that people are using that's keeping those flu numbers down, which is great...but it's not keeping the COVID-19 numbers down. There is no vaccine and we're still very susceptible to picking it up," Rodriguez said.

On top of getting your flu shot, they say we need to treat this flu season like we're trying to flatten the curve exactly how we did with COVID-19.

"Keep the physical distance, wash your hands and disinfect the surface. I always mention, your prevention is your best defense. It doesn't cost you anything. You can carry on with your normal life. You all are pretty much used to it. You all can keep on wearing the mask and you're pretty okay," local Pulmonologist Dr. Salim Surani said.

Health experts also added that the protection a flu shot offers takes about two weeks to kick in.