What is a ‘twindemic’ and how should you prepare?

Man preparing to receive a flu shot

What is a ‘twindemic’ and how should you prepare?

Over the past six months, one virus has been the center of our worlds. COVID-19 has impacted just about every aspect of our lives — how we work, learn, socialize and shop. Facemasks and social distancing have become the new normal. But a second virus is right around the corner — the seasonal influenza and the potential overlap of the two has been dubbed a “twindemic.”

The annual influenza season can begin as early as September or October and extend into April or May. In fact, Welia Health can expect to see its first case of the flu at anytime. Whether the COVID-19 pandemic remains in a prolonged first wave, or sees a second wave this fall or winter, health officials caution about the increased strain on an already overloaded health system. A second, but equally concerning risk, is that having seasonal influenza may make patients more more susceptible to the effects of the illness (COVID-19).

Over the next few months, doctors and researchers will undoubtedly learn more about the interaction of these two viruses. What we do know is this, even though the illnesses are very different, influenza symptoms can closely resemble symptoms seen in COVID-19 patients –things like body aches, fever and chills. In any other year, many experiencing influenza symptoms would simply ride it out, perhaps by staying home or taking Tamiflu until their symptoms subsided. This year, however, those same symptoms are likely to prompt concern and increase the demand for COVID-19 tests. Together with any surges in COVID-19, it’s easy to see the potential for labs becoming overwhelmed and test results being delayed.  

Distinguishing seasonal influenza from COVID-19 takes time. Any delay in diagnosis also means a delay in treatment. An all-out effort to lessen influenza will not only save lives lost, but also give doctors and hospitals  the space needed to manage a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

Preventing influenza and COVID-19

What can you do to prevent getting the flu and COVID-19? The answer may sound familiar: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — and wash them often. Watch the video below to learn how to wash or sanitize your hands properly.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks, toilets, sinks).
  • Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from people who are not in your household.
  • Wear a mask in public. Watch the video below for all the do’s and don’ts for wearing a mask.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid contact with anyone who is known to be sick.

All of these steps will help protect you from both COVID-19 and the flu. But there is one more step you should add to this list to help protect you, your family and your community. 

  • Get your annual influenza shot. This year it’s more important than ever. Not only will you avoid infection and keep healthier this season, you will also save your time, resources and hospital space. 

Who should get a flu shot?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season with rare exception. 

When should I get a flu shot?

Get your flu shot now. One dose will protect you all season long, so it’s best to get it early. If you had a flu shot early in 2020, you’ll need another one. Each year, the vaccine is reformulated to match the flu strains that are predicted for the upcoming season..

Where do I get a flu shot?

Welia Health offers flu shots at our community pharmacies in Mora and Pine City, as well as at our clinics in Mora, Pine City and Hinckley with a quick, nurse-only appointment. 

Welia Health drive-thru flu clinics

Getting a flu shot is easier than ever. Welia Health will hold drive-thru flu clinics at each of our clinics next month. 

While appointments aren’t required, masks are. Safety first. Follow signs to registration tents and stay in your vehicle.  No out-of-pocket cost with most insurance.

For more information about the flu, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.