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Georgia public health commissioner, warning of flu/COVID 'twindemic,' urges flu shots for all

Dr. Kathleen Toomey spoke Wednesday at a news conference with the governor at the State Capitol.

ATLANTA — Georgia's public health commissioner, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, urged everyone around the state to get a flu shot on Wednesday, warning of the so-called flu and COVID-19 "twindemic" that public health officials are concerned could emerge this winter.

Getting a flu shot, Dr. Toomey said, is the best way to help ensure a twindemic doesn't hit Georgia hard.

"Get a flu shot, never has it been more important to get a flu shot than this yea," she said. "We realize that people sometimes don’t think a flu shot is effective, or they're afraid to get it or they just don’t bother, but it's particularly important this year. We're trying to protect twindemics of COVID and influenza, which could be devastating."

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest numbers for Tuesday, Oct. 6

Dr. Toomey advised that everyone six months and older should get the flu shot.

Johns Hopkins University warned last month: "As the United States and the rest of the globe tries to gain its footing with a pandemic that has already killed nearly a million people and sickened almost 30 million, it faces another virus this fall that could devastate our progress thus far: the seasonal flu."

According to NBC News, about half the U.S. population got a flu vaccine in the 2018-19 flu season.

Dr. Toomey said that a severe flu season could drive more people into hospitals at the same time officials are trying to maintain downward trends in coronavirus infections.

"Flu itself can be deadly and lead to hospitalizations - to fill up hospitals and not leave capacity for COVID patients when that increase may occur," she said. "It's an extremely important thing to do as part of our COVID response get that flu shot."

According to the CDC, October is a good time to get a flu shot.

Dr. Toomey said Georgia public health departments have already received more than 300,000 doses of the flu vaccine and she expects them to get an additional 400,000.

Flu shots are also commonly available at commercial pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.