On average, the flu kills between 20,000 and 50,000 Americans each year, and now experts fear we are entering a “twindemic” with cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant likely to increase.
“We don’t know whether Omicron will add significantly to that or not. But, Delta is already enough of a problem. We don’t want people to end up in hospital with Delta and people to end up in hospital with the flu. and the hospital beds are filling and the intensive care beds are filling with these two patients, ”said Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus and infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley.
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Dr Swartzberg says we’re about two weeks away from seeing how quickly the flu will spread this year.
This is around the same time scientists say we will have more data on the rate of transmission of omicron. Based on this data, experts say the flu shot is needed.
“These vaccines are well known and well established. This year all vaccines are what we call quadrivalent, which means they cover all four types of influenza,” said Dr Swartzberg.
Dr Swartzberg reported an influenza outbreak to the University of Michigan with more than 500 cases.
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Marin County Health Officer Dr Matt Willis reported the first flu cases of the season.
“It seems like the winter is tough for us,” Dr Willis said and added, “Our surveillance has shown that the flu is starting to escalate in Marin County and this is true across the region. we’re starting to see a spike in influenza cases. “
Nationally, the CDC has reported an increase in influenza cases in recent weeks, with 80% of cases in children and young adults aged 5 to 24.
“We are more concerned that we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 related illnesses due to omicron. The last thing we need are people coming in with the flu at the same time,” said Dr Willis.
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