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'Get one in one arm and one in the other arm' — Tulsans urged to get COVID and flu vaccinations

American Academy of Pediatrics

A steady decline in COVID hospitalizations coincides with the beginning of flu season, and local hospitals are anticipating more of the flu this year.

"Probably folks will be masking less, and that will contribute to more flu this season than what we had last year," said Saint Francis Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs Dr. Mark Frost.

Frost is urging people to get vaccinated against both diseases and not to put off doing so. 

"You can get a flu vaccine on the same day you get a COVID vaccine. You should get one in one arm and one in the other arm, but it is perfectly safe for you to do that. The vaccines work in different ways, and they won't interfere with the effectiveness of one vaccine over the other," Frost said.

Saint Francis will begin offering flu vaccines at its drive-thru clinic on Friday. The clinic is at 6600 S Yale Ave. behind the Warren Clinic tower. Appointments are required and can be scheduled online.

It can be difficult to distinguish COVID from cold or flu. Loss or change in smell or taste are symptoms almost exclusive to COVID. Sore throat is very common with flu but rare with COVID.

Frost was asked during a Monday briefing hosted by Saint Francis whether people still experiencing COVID symptoms months after testing positive are more at risk if they catch the flu.

"Anybody that has any damage to their lungs is more susceptible to the complications of flu. So, I think that is likely the case, although I've not seen anything printed or published, since long-haul COVID is a relatively new diagnosis that's being studied," Frost said.

While COVID hospitalizations are falling, they appear to be more severe right now than they were during a late winter surge. Saint Francis officials said the hospital system has about twice as many patients on ventilators now as it did then. COVID patients now are also younger on average and almost exclusively unvaccinated.

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