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December 21, 2021Available files: mp3 wav jpg

As COVID Surges, Flu Shot and Checkup Can Help Maintain Health

Alexandria, VA Ė Even though the Omicron variant is spreading this holiday season, folks can take vital steps to guard their health such as getting a flu shot and returning for routine checkups. An American Heart Association report shows getting a flu shot provides double protection for folks with heart disease. Comments from Dr. Ameya Kulkarni (ah-MAY-ya KUL-kar-knee), cardiologist, Kaiser-Permanente, McLean, Va.

Intro: With COVID cases on the rise this holiday season, health officials are also encouraging folks to get their flu shots and get an annual checkup before the end of the year after many postponed these two health-care steps during the pandemic. Getting a flu shot is beneficial during the COVID crisis. But many people donít know that flu shots also have value for folks with heart disease. Doctor Ameya Kulkarni is a cardiologist with Kaiser Permanente. He notes an American Heart Association study shows if youíve had a heart attack, a flu shot lowers your risk of dying.

  :14  "If you've had heart disease or have had a stroke or had bypass surgery or a heart attack, getting that flu shot is not only protecting you from getting the flu, itís potentially protecting you from dying from really any cause. So itís a really neat additional benefit of getting the flu shot."

Tag:  He says flu shots are quick and administered with COVID safety precautions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for most people six months of age and older, and especially those at high risk for developing complications.

Second Cut: Kulkarni says many have put off going to the doctorís office during the pandemic for routine checkups and treatment plans. He says many health-care facilities are using protective measures to make visits safer. And if you canít afford to see a doctor right now, there are easy steps you can take to maintain your health.

  :15  "The simple things you can do is know your numbers and pay attention to your symptoms. If you know your blood pressure, thatís a key thing to know, and just trying to stay active, keep a good diet, those are things you can do to reduce your risks of having a long-term illness and also, if you have an illness, identifying it early. "

Tag:  Many doctors now offer Telehealth visits if youíre still concerned about seeing someone in person. For more information on flu vaccines and going back to the doctor, go to the American Heart Association web site at heart.org.

OPTIONAL REPORTER WRAP: uses first soundbite(s)
LEDE: With COVID cases on the rise this holiday season, health officials also are encouraging folks to get their flu shots and get an annual checkup before the end of the year after many postponed these two healthcare steps during the pandemic. Diane Bernard has more.
 :47 Outcue...I'm Diane Bernard

Note to Editors: Reach Kulkarni at 240-247-7704. AHA flu shot study: https://bit.ly/3qgwUOS. CDC flu info: https://bit.ly/3so015S. AHA flu prevention: https://bit.ly/32lmaXx. AHA Doctor visit info: https://bit.ly/3qfacHa.