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The first day of fall means the return of flu season, Utah doctor warns

A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC January 31, 2020. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials don’t fully know what to expect yet with this year’s flu season, but they want to prepare as best they can. 

Intermountain Healthcare Dr. Tamara Sheffield credits measures put in place last year to limit the spread of COVID-19 for keeping the 2020 flu season mild in Utah. But with fewer people masking and practicing social distancing in 2021, she worries things may change. 

“The less we are doing those masking and distancing, the more we will start to see flu again,” she said Wednesday on KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic. “Just like we’ve seen respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — it came back with a vengeance this summer, when we’ve had no cases last winter, which was extraordinary.” 

It also makes her a little nervous to see what happens after last year’s mild season. 

“Whenever we have a big lull in flu, we’re always going, ‘Okay, when’s the really big season gonna hit?'” she said. “Since we haven’t had it for a while, we expect when it does come back, it will come back strong.” 

She recommends Utah residents seek out a flu shot sooner rather than later, saying you can receive the flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Utah Department of Health tracks weekly seasonal flu activity here. 

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