COVID-19 and Flu Season: Doctors Urge Public to Get Flu Shots Early to Avoid 'Twindemic'

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American families may face a "twindemic" this year with the rising cases of COVID-19 during flu season. Doctors say that it would be prudent for parents to facilitate their family's flu shots earlier and prevent a surge of cases in hospitals currently overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it logged about 1,675 influenza cases from Sept. 28, 2020, to May 22, 2021, which was one of the mildest flu cases in the country's record. However, doctors said it's not easy to predict the outcome this year, with most schools resuming in-person learning.

"We are heading into the flu season with more relaxed restrictions," Dr. TingTing Wong of the New York-Presbyterian Medical Group Brooklyn told Fox News. "The situation will allow for increased chances of respiratory illness transmissions."

Wong added cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and rhinoviruses had an uptick last summer due to the relaxed restrictions; hence there are legitimate concerns that hospitals will have more flu cases by fall or winter when flu season peaks.

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The Strain on Health Care

Dr. Daniel Solomon of the Brigham and Women's Hospital acknowledged that doctors were also worried about the "twindemic" in 2020. As COVID-19 remains a public health problem, the possibility of a strain on the country's health care system remains high this fall.

Currently, the national seven-day average of hospitalization due to COVID-19 is at 11,000 cases per day. In recent weeks, virus cases have surged from 12 percent to 23 percent.

According to NPR, some hospitals are forced to send other COVID-19 patients to far-flung areas via ambulance or helicopters because there are no more hospital beds. Other facilities have postponed other procedures, like hip replacement surgeries or cancer biopsies, as more medical workers have to treat patients with COVID-19.

But sending patients away if their cases are not coronavirus-related can bring serious consequences, especially for those who come to the hospitals to see a specialist. An elderly experiencing a heart attack or stroke may risk death because emergency rooms can't accept more patients.

Some hospitals also lack healthcare workers who have walked away from their duties due to pandemic fatigue. Suffice it to say, going to the hospital for flu could bring another unnecessary strain, but if people get their flu shots as soon as possible, we could prevent this.

Is it COVID or Flu?

Meanwhile, according to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu may have some similarities, such as cough, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose, fever, and tiredness. But COVID-19 patients also develop a loss of smell or taste, which rarely happens for flu patients.

COVID-19 can also develop serious complications in some patients, who may need to receive a supply of oxygen. While various antiviral drugs can cure the flu, there is only one type of antiviral medication for COVID-19.

Vaccination remains the best way to prevent contracting either COVID-19 or flu viruses. To reduce the risk of infection for any of these illnesses, following standard safety procedures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent handwashing and disinfection, continue to be highly recommended.

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