While the country waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, there’s another vaccine that’s been top of mind — the flu shot.

New York City health officials are calling on New Yorkers to get their flu shots, saying it is especially crucial this year amid the pandemic.

City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi administered a flu shot to NY1’s Pat Kiernan on “Mornings On 1.”

“Just like Pat Kiernan, we have to roll up our sleeves and get the flu vaccine because it may be the most important one that you ever get,” he said.

Flu shots will help keep people healthy during the pandemic and help avoid extra doctor visits. 

"The symptoms sure are similar. And the way to tell the difference between them is through testing. And the way to get tested in general is to do all the things that we're talking about not going to do — which is going to the health care environment, and showing up at the emergency department, showing up at an urgent care center," Brendan Carr, chairman of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, said on "One New York."


Chokshi said as soon as a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, the city will be poised to deliver doses.

“We are prepared to do that and in constant communication with the CDC with respect to how that will be rolled out. And this gives me the opportunity to say we have a lot of experience in doing that, particularly with the flu vaccine,” Chokshi told NY1.

“And so we're looking at this season and ensuring that as many New Yorkers as possible get their flu vaccine as a way to lay the groundwork for COVID vaccination as well,” he continued.

The health commissioner said he is counting on Washington for a trustworthy COVID-19 vaccine.

“I'll tell you what I'm looking for, particularly from Washington, which is a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. And to ensure that we're doing everything that we can to deliver it as soon as it is possible and ensuring that it is a safe and effective vaccine when it does get delivered,” said Chokshi.

He said one way parents, students and teachers can deal with anxiety about the reopening of schools is to remember the same lessons heard about masks and social distancing.

"We can all take steps to protect people who are in schools. The number one thing that will protect students, as well as our staff, is to keep the overall transmission of COVID as low as possible. That gets back to the simple steps that I described about wearing our masks and doing the other things that protect one another. And then there are things that we are doing within our schools to ensure that we have multiple layers of safety, cleaning, disinfecting, to ensuring adequate ventilation and the testing that was described,” said Chokshi.

Less than two months ago, Chokshi was appointed to the job following the resignation of Oxiris Barbot.

In terms of the transition and any tension that existed between the former commissioner and other parts of city government, Chokshi said he is satisfied that the relationships with other city agencies are where they should be.

“We know that the virus respect no boundaries. It doesn't respect individual boundaries. It doesn't respect geographic boundaries. And it certainly doesn't respect political boundaries. We're in this historic moment when it really requires a response across all of government. And I know that New Yorkers themselves are counting on us to figure out ways to work together as quickly as possible, and that's my commitment,” the health commissioner said.

“The mayor has made very clear how important an adequate and robust public health response is to everything else that has to happen in our city. Our economy. Our schools. Everything else hinges on making sure we're doing everything possible on our public health response. We have the resources to be able to implement that response,” he continued.

For more information on getting a flu shot, head to nyc.gov/flu.