TULSA, Okla. — Saint Francis doctors are urging both flu and COVID vaccinations as we head into the colder months.
Saint Francis leaders held an update Monday, saying while cases are trending down, more people are on a ventilator than during previous surges.
There are 176 COVID patients hospitalized at Saint Francis. 52 of those patients are on a ventilator, which is double the number from the surge last winter and early spring.
However, there is good news. Saint Francis is seeing a downward trend in case numbers. They’ve given nearly 100,000 doses of the vaccine so far, 4,000 of which are booster shots.
“If we continue our efforts to get more people vaccinated, and for those that are not vaccinated, to wear their mask and socially distance, we will, hopefully, see this current surge continue to taper off," Frost said. "Now, the big wild card is whether we will have another variant.”
As hospitals battle COVID, they’re also dealing with flu season.
“Last year, as you said, we had practically no cases of the flu," Frost said. "So we anticipate we will see numerous hospitalizations from influenza as we get into these winter months.”
So how do you know if you have COVID, the flu or a cold?
Dr. Frost said the top two symptoms of COVID are losing taste and smell. After that it could be a fever, new and persistent cough, chills, appetite loss, severe fatigue and muscle aches.
He said the top symptoms of the flu are fever, sore throat and a headache. He noted that a sore throat is an uncommon symptom of COVID. Meanwhile, a cold will typically start with a sore throat and then move to nasal congestion and a cough.
“Influenza also tends to have a very abrupt onset, more likely to be associated with fever than the common cold," Frost said. "The common cold comes on more gradually.”
Dr. Frost also addressed the COVID vaccine in pregnant women. He said it’s safe for them to get vaccinated and it won’t cause infertility. He said the CDC reports more than 22,000 pregnant women have been hospitalized with COVID.
Saint Francis currently has two pregnant women hospitalized, one of whom is on a ventilator.
“For that reason, they are in a high-risk category," Frost said. "I’d put them on the same level as somebody in their 70s or 80s in terms of the damage it can do to their lungs because of their pregnant state.”
Dr. Frost said you can get both your COVID and flu vaccines at the same time. He suggests getting them in different arms.
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