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Flu or COVID? Local doctor says more testing will be needed, but treatment must be proactive

Flu season is on the way. But don’t expect it to look like every other year the region has battled. The Coronavirus Pandemic is going to change things, according to Dr. Stephen Thomas, Chief of Infectious Disease at Upstate University Hospital.

He tells CNYCentral that things are going to be different. “I do think that it is going to be a different cold and flu season than it has before because influenza and COVID-19 can present clinically very similar to each other,” he said.

That could mean big challenges determining the difference between the two. Testing inconsistencies could also make a difference.

“I think anybody who has an influenza-like illness is going to be treated like they have COVID until they can get tested for one or both,” added Dr. Thomas.

He says that some vaccine manufacturers are preparing by producing more ahead of what will undoubtedly be a busy flu season.

“Ideally people would get vaccinated in September and October and it should provide them protection into early spring of the next year,” said Dr. Thomas. “If for some reason they can’t get vaccinated until December or even January I think that is also appropriate for them to do that,” Thomas added.

He says the flu shot carries secondary benefits, like protecting people from other health concerns, like cardivasculor issues.