Some doctors are calling the upcoming flu season a “twindemic.”
As flu season approaches, the country is still grappling with a surge in COVID-19 infections driven largely by the delta variant.
Dr. Lisa Ravindra, an internal medicine primary care physician at Rush University Medical Center, said the term “twindemic” first appeared last fall, as doctors anticipated possible surges of COVID-19 and the flu. However, last year’s flu season resulted in an unusually low number of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the severity of a flu season is difficult to predict, there are a couple factors to watch out for, said Ravindra. One is the current mitigation measures for COVID-19. With students back in school and more people heading back to the workplace, people might not be as cautious in following safety protocols.
Another factor to consider is the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season.
“They didn’t have a bad flu season this summer, which is their winter, but they are also much more strict with preventing COVID than we are in the Northern Hemisphere,” Ravindra said.
Lastly, Ravindra points to immunity issues. During a typical flu season, people might be exposed to the flu and create antibodies that their body will use to help fight a possible flu infection — even if they don’t get sick with influenza. Since last year’s flu season was unusually low, people weren’t as exposed to the flu and did not get those antibodies.
To protect yourself against the flu, Ravindra recommends getting the flu shot. There is no concern about getting both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot, she said, even if you get them on the same day.
“Even if you don’t think that you’re at risk for getting really sick, it’s still such an important measure to get the flu shot every year to increase immunity and to not need a hospital bed,” Ravindra said.