Scientists think this winter might come with a so-called “twindemic!” The reason why they are calling it that is because it’s possible COVID-19 and the flu will both reach new and scary levels of infection at the same time.
As you might be aware, millions of kids all over the world catch the flu every single year and thousands of them need hospitalization.
But last winter season, the number of infectees went down drastically due to the fact people wore masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 and were also socially distanced.
That’s right! The measures taken to keep the pandemic under control also helped with stopping the spread of the flu and other common respiratory viruses last year, as demonstrated by a new study presented at an American Academy of Pediatrics conference.
Infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. William Schaffner stated that “Although each of these things is not perfect, taken together, they really are effective in preventing illness.”
The study was done by Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio between October of last year and April of 2021 while some of the strictest pandemic measures were in place and researchers were able to determine that there were only two cases of the flu and zero cases of RSV.
However, as soon as the restrictions relaxed in the spring, viral infection cases started going right up.
“We didn’t really expect that we would see spreading of winter respiratory viruses in the summer. It just shows you that these viruses, which are really very contagious, will take advantage of us as we open up, gather together, take off our masks,” Dr. Schaffner shared.
The flu vaccine is recommended by the CDC to everyone aged 6 months and up, with only some very rare exceptions.
Of course, while the main focus this winter, as it’s been for the past couple of years, is the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s good to know that by wearing masks and social distancing, you can also avoid a double infection with COVID and the flu, which would make anything much worse.
We certainly do not want a second pandemic this cold season!