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'Get a flu vaccine': Gov. Abbott urges Texans to prepare for flu season amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Texas governor said that though daily new coronavirus cases are dropping in Dallas-Fort Worth, people should continue to exercise caution.

In a visit to Dallas on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott urged Texans to "get a flu vaccine" as early as possible. 

Abbott said it's critical to prepare for the convergence of the flu season and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said that though new coronavirus cases have been dropping since record highs in July, the spread of the disease hasn't been entirely stopped. 

The governor said Texans should continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. He also said people should continue to avoid gatherings, including with family, to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

"There may be this sense that if you're gathering with family, you're not really transmitting COVID-19, but that has been disproven," Abbott said. "Anybody anywhere has both the ability to spread or contract COVID-19." 

Abbott met with medical experts Thursday at UT Southwestern Medical Center to discuss how the upcoming flu season could impact the coronavirus outbreak in the state. 

The governor said that "with a flu season that could be prolific," he and other state leaders are concerned that hospitals could become "completely overrun." 

Dr. John Hellerstedt, the Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, said it will be a challenge for doctors to differentiate and diagnosis the flu and coronavirus this fall, because both diseases have similar symptoms. 

But, he said, there are effective treatments for the flu.

"In the case of influenza, we have an excellent vaccine," Hellerstedt said.