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Preparing for flu season amid the COVID-19 pandemic

'We want folks to wash hands, we want them to stay home when they're sick, and we want folks to wear masks,' Dr. Dennis Kuo said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With summer coming to a close and back to school season underway, Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes new challenges could be on the horizon. 

He said in a news conference on Tuesday, "You're going to see different factors in this new phase. Flu season is starting. Flu season is going to be a complicated factor. Flu season means there will be more stress on the testing system. ... Flu symptoms are much like COVID symptoms so people who are sneezing, people who are sniffling, could be the flu, could be COVID. That will cause additional complications."

2 On Your Side reached out to Dr. Dennis Kuo, the Division Chief of General Pediatrics at UBMD Pediatrics and the University at Buffalo and Medical Director of Pediatric Primary Care Services at the John R. Oishei Children‘s Hospital, for his input on this. 

"The unique situation is that for kids' symptoms of flu and symptoms of coronavirus may be pretty similar and, of course, the treatments are different," Dr. Kuo said.

He added, "Because the responses and treatment plans are different, it's important for us to either A, be able to test for them, or B, try to do everything possible to prevent the kids from getting sick in the first place." 

He said, in part, that means getting the flu shot sooner rather than later.

"Many doctors have flu shots already. Now's the time to do it," Dr. Kuo said, adding, "You wanna get it done before flu season starts." 

Dr. Kuo said it is possible that we might not see the flu arrive in the numbers we typically do, but he explained that doesn't mean we should let our guard down. 

"We don't have any indication yet that this is gonna be an especially bad flu season, but we also can certainly turn the tide by doing all the things that we know are also protecting ourselves against coronavirus. We want folks to wash hands, we want them to stay home when they're sick and we want folks to wear masks," Dr. Kuo said. 

Kuo told 2 on Your Side preparation is key.

"We want folks to be flexible," he said. "We want them to be forgiving and accommodating. In these uncertain times, we just have to work together and we will figure it out."


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