MERRIAM, Ks. — The coming flu season and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic are raising concerns for health leaders in the metro, even as Pfizer announced Monday that their COVID-19 vaccine could soon become available for children 5-11 years old.
Dr. Tony Healy, family medicine physician and medical director at Advent Health Shawnee Mission, spoke to KSHB 41 about some of the conversations he's had with parents as they navigate the current school year.
"A litany of various questions, obviously exposure is one of the biggest ones. My child was exposed in this fashion, do they need to stay home? If so, for how long do they need to be tested? If so, when?" Healy said. "It's cold season, it's flu season. All these symptoms are very similar to the symptoms we see with Covid, obviously we don't want to quarantine every person every time they get a cough, so how do we figure out what's what and keep kids home and keep them safe as well as the community safe at the same time?"
Healy said flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms can be very similar.
"Probably the only thing that doesn't align exactly with flu versus COVID, is that as we're well aware with COVID patients, we can have loss of taste and smell whereas you don't generally see that with the flu," Healy said.
He also said that vaccines are the best tool against the oncoming season.
"I can't say this in a more emphatic fashion, is that vaccination is our best defense against any communicable disease, be that flu, be that Covid," Healy said. "If there are new recommendations that stipulate that not only is the vaccine safe but also effective in a younger age group, the medical community at large would certainly recommend Covid vaccine for that age range."
Healy said getting vaccinated for COVID-19 won't interfere with other vaccinations.
"Originally when the first Covid vaccines came out, we did have some stipulations about other vaccines before or after the Covid vaccine," Healy said. "In current state, you can give basically any vaccine simultaneously, so we could give a child their adolescent vaccines as well as a flu shot as well as the Covid vaccine on the same day, if, if that was in the best interest of the patient and the child."