Flu Season Raises More Concern During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Courtesy of the CDC

Make sure to get your flu shot this year.

Kate Shanahan, Sports Editor

The flu season, which is always a stressful time for those with weaker immune systems, is amping up anxieties for everyone this year. With Coronavirus still the most prominent issue in the world right now, and the persistent lack of a vaccine, doctors and scientists are scrambling to find solutions to ease concerns.

As summer transitions into autumn, neighborhood pharmacies begin the familiar tradition of hanging “Flu Shots Available Here” signs. Physicians fill parents’ inboxes with reminders about getting annual vaccinations for themselves and their children. Some parents choose to ignore these yearly reminders, which could potentially be fatal this year.

With COVID-19 and the flu presenting those afflicted with similar symptoms, testing is going to be necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis this year. The key difference between the two illnesses is that COVID-19 causes more severe illness in some individuals, symptoms don’t present themselves right away, and it is contagious for longer periods of time. The CDC is urging all people six months and older to receive their flu shot this year as it is more important than ever before.

It has been confirmed that an individual can have both the Coronavirus and the flu simultaneously. Health professionals are still determining how common the combination of both illnesses can be. A new test has been developed which will check for both type A and B seasonal flu and SARS CoV-2 which will allow health officials to observe how the diseases are spreading. The FDA has given the CDC an Emergency Use Authorization for this new type of test.

Since both diseases seriously attack the respiratory system, mortality rates for the seasonal flu and COVID-19 are expected to increase. The 2017-2018 flu season was the most devastating in the U.S. with over 61,000 deaths that year alone. This year’s flu season has potential to top those numbers.

Recently, as COVID cases began increasing again in some areas of the U.S. and the world, hospitals have become slightly overwhelmed again. With this “twindemic,” as experts are nicknaming it, medical facilities could easily become overwhelmed again. The combination of both illnesses will not only wreak havoc on the immune system, but put hospital systems to the test.

Now more than ever, it is absolutely crucial to adhere to social distancing procedures and the use of protective masks, plenty of hand sanitizer, and avoid potential exposure to COVID-19 or the flu.