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Experts concerned about possible ‘twindemic’ as US enters flu season amid rising COVID-19 cases

A local health official is advising people to get their flu shot as soon as they can.
A local health official is advising people to get their flu shot as soon as they can.(WAGM)
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 6:58 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Safety measures that were taken during the pandemic like masking, social distancing, and lockdowns, caused last year’s flu season to be the mildest on record.

Experts say it’s proof that masks work. What about this upcoming flu season? Health experts have renewed warnings that a ‘twindemic’ may be headed this way.

A “twindemic” is when the flu and COVID-19 cases simultaneously rise and overwhelm hospitals. Some health professionals say it may be possible this year. Right now the flu is thankfully low. According to Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health said, flu data showed mask-wearing works.

Stack said for the last flu season we had before covid there were 27,408 confirmed flu cases and 165 deaths.

During COVID Kentucky had 186 flu cases and 2 known deaths.

Flu season happens in the fall and winter. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May, according to the CDC.

That’s why people are being urged to get their flu shot. Health experts worry we may be dealing with a more typical flu season, as students get back to in-person learning, some places loosen mask and social distancing mandates, and a return to social gatherings.

That is especially concerning as COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant rise throughout the country.

“One thing we do know, any flu is going to stress us,” Dr. Jeff Graves from UofL Health said. “More so than just the basic COVID pandemic is stressing us already. We are thinking probably October, we are going to see a peak we are hoping it will be a sharp peak and a rapid decline because of how swiftly and easily transmissible COVID is moving through the population.”

You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading and it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

According to the CDC, you no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations. You can get your flu shot and covid shot at the same time if need be.

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