Health expert warns of 'twindemic' of COVID-19 and flu cases

COVID-19 pandemic to collide with flu season
Posted at 9:57 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 09:01:54-04

NASHVILLE, TN (WTVF) — As the battle against COVID-19 continues, flu season is rapidly approaching.

This year, health experts are warning about possible “twindemic” featuring a combination of widespread COVID-19 and flu cases.

"I am a little worried that we are going to have very severe Winter respiratory virus season," said Dr. William Schaffner, an Infectious Disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner said it is still unknown if COVID-19 cases will spike as temperatures drop, or how severe the flu season will be. However, the precautions many are taking to slow the spread of COVID-19, can also help fight the flu.

"Keep wearing a mask, social distance, wash your hands and don’t go into large groups," said Dr. Schaffner. "That will help with both viruses."

Dr. Schaffner also said everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot. The ideal time to get the vaccine is mid-September through October. He added it is safe to go to your doctor's office, health clinic, pharmacy or senior citizen center to get the vaccine. Dr. Schaffner said while the vaccine isn't perfect, it can substantially reduce the chances of contracting the flu, and if you still get the virus, the infection can be less severe. The flu shot does not reduce a person's chances of getting COVID-19. However, there are a few known cases of people getting COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

Since COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms, many people may end up being confused on which virus they have. Dr. Schaffner said this will make testing very important.

"We don’t have to be scared, but we ought to be careful," said Dr. Schaffner. "If we are careful, we will get vaccinated and other things we should be doing all along."