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Medical experts discuss threat of 'twindemic' as flu season nears amid rising COVID cases

Doctors said the threat of a “twindemic" is of more concern this year because, unlike last flu season, kids are back in school this year.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hospitals are sounding the alarm bell about the possibility of a “twindemic” where the spread of the delta variant could collide with the spread of influenza.

Both respiratory viruses — the flu and COVID — show similar symptoms and doctors are predicting people will come to the ER thinking they may have COVID when it's flu or vice versa.

“I think having them both at the same time is very likely,” says Dr. Craig Cairns Vice President of Medical Affairs Licking Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Mark Conroy, the medical director of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Emergency Department, said the medical community is concerned about people coming in with potentially both COVID-19 and the flu.

“The fever, the cough sore throat muscle aches all of those symptoms are shared with both diseases,”  Dr. Conroy said.

Doctors said everyone six months or older should get a flu vaccine before October and they said you can get both COVId and flu shots at the same time and in the same arm.

“It is definitely advisable to get the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine at the same time,” Dr. Conroy said.

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo of OhioHealth said people who get both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine should not expect additional side effects.

“For the last several months we've been giving COVID vaccines with other vaccines together with no signals at all of increased side effects,” he said.

Doctors said the threat of a “twindemic" is of more concern this year because, unlike last flu season, kids are back in school this year.

“Indoors in the wintertime with less ventilation of air, that is a risky proposition to not only get COVID but also influenza and other respiratory viruses,” Dr. Gastaldo said.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the CDC will hold their annual flu briefing next month to forecast what the flu season could look like.

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