SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The Santa Clara County Public Health Department advised residents Monday to get vaccinated against the flu in addition to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The annual flu affects many of the same demographics as the coronavirus, according to SCCPHD public health expert Rodrigo Garcia-Reyes, including those over the age of 65 and people with chronic medical conditions.

Getting vaccinated for the flu will be even more important this year, Garcia-Reyes said, because the symptoms of the flu and the coronavirus are very similar and the two illnesses could be mistaken for each other if someone has not been vaccinated or tested for the virus.

Many of the same public health practices that help curb the coronavirus’ spread will also help prevent the flu’s spread, Garcia-Reyes said.

“Making sure that you wash your hands every single time you touch a surface, avoid touching your mouth, your nose, your eyes, cover your mouth and your nose if you sneeze or cough,” he said.

The county will offer flu vaccinations for free, regardless of insurance or immigration status, at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds and all Santa Clara Valley Medical Center clinics and pharmacies on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, county public health officials also advised residents to get tested for the coronavirus.

The county will offer pop-up testing sites that do not require an appointment at the William Overfelt High School gym in San Jose and at Gilroy’s South County Annex from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Appointment-based testing sites will also be available throughout the week in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino and Campbell.

A full list of the county’s coronavirus testing sites can be found at sccfreetest.org.

“Testing is our ticket to fewer restrictions,” Valley Medical Center Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Tong said. “Fast test results improve the contact tracing work, which keeps our county as safe as possible from COVID-19.”

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