Health experts say this winter could bring a potential twindemic with rising cases of COVID-19 and very serious influenza is likely on its way.
Last winter, we battled COVID-19 with masks, social isolation and lots of handwashing. Those measures had the added benefit of preventing many cases of flu last year.
"We have a high likelihood of having a very serious flu season," said Dr. Mark S. Roberts with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
Roberts and his colleagues Ran two separate computer analyses and both models predict a very serious flu season.
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"The likelihood is that there could be 20% or 30% more cases. The mathematical model that we use said as many as 400,000 extra hospitalizations," said Roberts.
Experts are concerned flu could crush healthcare systems that are already straining to keep up with the demands of COVID-19. They say the best way to avoid a worst-case scenario is a flu vaccine.
"Even though the flu vaccine is not as effective as the COVID-19 vaccine is, it is still effective at preventing serious disease, and it's more effective than not," Roberts said.
According to one model, if 75% of Americans get vaccinated against the flu as compared to 50% in a typical year, many of those additional hospitalizations could be avoided.
Experts say you can get both a COVID-19 booster and a flu shot together. Roberts says the CDC is still working to determine which strain of the flu will be dominant this year, so they can't yet predict how effective this year's flu shot will be, still, they say it is better than no flu shot at all.