AstraZeneca pauses coronavirus vaccine trial after unexplained illness in volunteer

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A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC, in January. Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

People can hope for a mild flu season like that just experienced in the southern hemisphere, but they need to get vaccinated, too, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.

“One of the things we can say is that we should continue to encourage people to get vaccinated with the influenza vaccine,” Fauci said during an event sponsored by Research! America. 

Australia had “one of the lowest rates of influenza infection in memory,” Fauci said. “If we can do that, I think that would be very favorable,” he added.

“If what happened in the southern hemisphere happens here, that would be a very good and favorable thing,” Fauci added. 

Mask use, social distancing and hand washing have not only helped prevent the spread of coronavirus, but they likely helped stop the spread of flu, too, he said.

If the US does have what Fauci calls a “full-blown” flu season without getting control over the coronavirus, doctors, hospitals and others will struggle to tell the two infections apart. Plus, the sheer number of sick people could overwhelm the healthcare system.

“That’s the reason why, when you have two coexisting infections during the winter months, it becomes problematic,” he said. 

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