Health experts concerned over arrival of new flu season amid COVID-19 pandemic

Pediatricians and health care workers are anticipating a double whammy of flu season and COVID-19.

On July 30, FOX 10 spoke with a Valley-based pediatrician, who said it is a real concern for her and many others in her field.

"I don't think we have great answers yet on how we can handle this acutely for families and patients," said Dr. Valerie Jacobs with Paradise Pediatrics. "A concern we have in the outpatient is how to differentiate. Runny nose, cough, body aches. Could that be COVID? Could it be flu? All of the above?"

The flu sends around 100,000 Americans to the hospital, and kills about 100 children per year. Now, a question for Dr. Jacobs is are these patients going to get the care they need, with the higher than usual hospitalization rates for COVID-19.

"Get in for your wellness visits. We are telling people make sure to get flu vaccine to eliminate those numbers and protect you," said Dr. Jacobs.

Dr. Jacobs says during the pandemic, less patients have been heading to the doctor's office to get the wellness checks. Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination rates have declined during the pandemic by an estimated 21% from January to April.

Dr. Jacobs says it is so important to stay on top of prevention measures.

"Preventative medicine is the number on defense in staying healthy," said Dr. Jacobs. She is also telling people to stay in contact with their doctors, and for kids especially to get that flu vaccine, with the start of school on the way.

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On, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)