June 15, 2020 at 2:39 PM EDT – Updated June 15 at 7:55 PM
(CNN) – While experts continue to warn about the devastating effects of a second wave of coronavirus cases, a top U.S. health official says it will be even worse if Americans don’t get a flu shot.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s especially important to be vaccinated against the flu.
Redfield said if a second wave of coronavirus hits when the flu season is underway, it could really strain hospitals, but if more people get their flu shot, it could ease a potential strain on resources.
Redfield said only about 47% of Americans take advantage of the flu vaccine, but he’s hoping the public will see that it’s a major way they can help the nation get through the fall.
Not all flu cases are reported, but the CDC estimates there were up to 56 million cases – with up to 62,000 deaths – from Oct. 1, 2019, through April 4, 2020.
Though the flu is detected year-round in the U.S., flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter.
Redfield also said social distancing will continue to play an important role as a major defense against COVID-19 later in the year.
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