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Health Dept. encourages flu shots, to prevent 'twindemic'

State and federal health officials say they’re hoping to prevent a “twindemic” this year, by urging people to get their flu shots.

State director of immunizations Molly Howell said with COVID-19 a factor this year, people should get the flu vaccine. She said the flu and COVID have similar symptoms, since they are both respiratory illnesses.

"It will be very difficult to tell the difference between COVID-19 and influenza without testing," Howell said during Gov, Doug Burgum's weekly COVID-19 briefing. "That will also place an extra burden on health care providers, to have to test for both flu and COVID-19."

Howell said a number of North Dakotans were hospitalized with flu last year.

"We don't want to have influenza hospitalizations, on top of COVID-19 hospitalizations," Howell said. "That could tax our health care providers."

Howell said the number of North Dakotans who have already received the flu shot is double what it was at this time last year.

"By this time last year, we had 26,308 Norrth Dakotans vaccinated," Howell said. "This year, so far, it's 47,418."

Howell said she’s confident North Dakota will have enough vaccine to go around.

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