MADISON, Wisc., (SPECTRUM NEWS)— Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, medical providers from across Dane County are urging the public to roll up their sleeves soon for an annual immunization.

"We're all up here terrified if we did get a particularly bad flu season, and COVID-19 continues to have these surges, (that) the health systems in the communities would really be in great stress," UW Health Immunization program director Dr. James Conway says.

Dr. Conway fears this fall could be difficult as the symptoms for both are so similar. 

"Fever, headache, cough and muscle aches — like most years — that's the definition of the flu. Unfortunately this year, that's the definition of the flu or COVID-19."

Back in April, he convened his team of top docs and healthcare experts for a first-of-its-kind county immunization plan

"The best hope for a given year is about 60 percent (flu immunization). Given the products availability, I think the goal is to use all that product and immunized especially the highest risk population," he says.

It means everywhere, from UW’s campus to clinics across the county, flu vaccines are coming soon. 

"We need people to think about protecting themselves, protecting their families and protecting their community," Dr. Conways says.

Meanwhile, to continue the effort, the Alliant Energy Center will feature a special place for a specific population to receive the annual shot in the arm.

"Anyone ages six months and older who is uninsured or is on Badger Care will be able to get their flu shot at this. It'll be set up much like COVID-19 testing; people will be able to easily drive up and get their flu shot," Sarah Hughes, immunization coordinator for Public Health Madison and Dane County, says. 

She says this is one additional way to ensure even more individuals can receive the injection.

"And the more people that get vaccinated, the harder it will be for the flu to spread this winter," Hughes says.