HARLEM, Manhattan — As the U.S. continues to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, experts warn of a potential “twin-demic” that could follow this flu season.
If flu cases this year start spreading wildly while the coronavirus is still a threat, medical experts warn the country could have two pandemics on its hands at the same time.
Health experts and community leaders gathered in Harlem Saturday to raise awareness about the coming potential risks.
“We’ve got to get our shot for the vaccine, we’ve got to get our shot for the flu,” said George Hulsea, a medical professional for the non-profit Emblem Health. “We could control this pandemic if we work together and we all move forward.“
According to medical institutions, more than 700,000 people in the United States have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Compare that with the flu viruses, which on average lead to the deaths of around 20,000 to 30,000 Americans every year. When you look at it like that, the flu may not seem to be major problem, however, medical experts are worried that this flu season could be much worse than past seasons.
Here’s why: doctors say if you contract both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, it could take a much more serious toll on you as your body tries to fight off both viruses simultaneously.
Second, because of all the social distancing, facemasks, and other health measures last year, flu cases were almost nonexistent. How does that affect us now? Epidemiologists say fewer people catching the flu last year means there are fewer people with an immunity to it this year. Basically, everyone is more susceptible to the flu now because our bodies haven’t experienced it in a longer than normal time.
Altogether, medical experts say now is the time to get your COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already, and also get a flu shot. Doctors say you can even get both shots done at the same time.
Medical volunteers from the non-profit Emblem Health held a public health clinic event in Harlem Saturday to bring vaccinations to the community.
“We are not waiting for people to come to us, we’re coming to them,” said Karen Ignagni, CEO of Emblem Health.