WA physicians urge patients to get flu shots as state braces for double whammy of COVID and flu

The Washington State Medical Association
Press Release

With the SARS-CoV-2 novel respiratory virus on the rise in both Washington state and across the country, physicians statewide are joining public health officials in raising the alarm of a potential deadly confluence of two serious respiratory illnesses during the fall and winter seasons.

“Flu plus COVID-19 could really be double trouble for both patients and our health care system,” said Monica Blykowski-May, MD, a family medicine physician at the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS), and board member of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA). “We are concerned that our healthcare system can be overwhelmed.

So we are asking that all Washingtonians make plans now to get your flu shot — the sooner, the better.”

Washington physicians are uniting to send this simple yet urgent message: Be safe, be smart, get your flu shot. “Getting a flu vaccine at the beginning of the fall respiratory illness season is the smart and safe way to keep you and your loved ones out of the medical setting and help conserve resources to care for COVID-19 patients,” Blykowski-May said.

“Because flu and COVID-19 share similar symptoms, it can be very frightening and confusing to someone who becomes ill,” she said. “However, with a flu vaccine, it can help take flu off the table for many of those who protect themselves.” She added that there could be an enormous strain on our ability to test, diagnose and devote limited resources like hospital beds if both viruses are circulating unchecked.

Dr. Blykowski-May emphasizes that even with masks and social distancing, flu can be unpredictable, so everyone must remain vigilant. “Getting your flu shot not only protects you, but it protects others, especially those who are more vulnerable, including infants, seniors and those with chronic medical conditions. If more people get a flu vaccine, this can significantly prevent this virus from spreading throughout the community, freeing up medical professionals to continue the fight against the coronavirus as we wait for a vaccine,” Blykowski-May said.

Flu vaccines are free for all kids from 6 months until they turn 18 years old through the state’s Childhood Vaccine Program; talk to your child’s doctor for more information. Most adults can receive free flu vaccines through their insurance. Uninsured adults can also receive a free flu vaccine, visit the Washington State Department of Health website for information: https://www.doh.wa.gov/ YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Flu/NoCostVaccines


The Washington State Medical Association represents more than 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians, and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine for more than 125 years. Our vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care.