The upcoming flu season could complicate a health care system already trying to stay ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Naperville medical expert is warning.

The medical community typically recommends people get vaccinated for the flu annually, but Mary Anderson, manager of Infection Control and Prevention at Edward Hospital in Naperville, said it’s more important this year.

Getting a flu shot this fall will help prevent individuals from contracting the flu or lessen its severity, she said, and ease the burden on health workers.

Anderson said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the flu virus and the coronavirus both likely will spread at the same time in the fall and winter.

The problem, she said, is some of the symptoms of influenza and other upper respiratory illnesses are similar to COVID-19, making it hard to distinguish based on symptoms alone.

Only diagnostic testing can help determine if a person is sick with flu or COVID-19, Anderson said.

“It will be a challenge for health professionals,” she said. “If we have a bad flu season, there could be a really big demand on health care.”

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SOURCE ( Suzanne Baker / Chicago Tribune )