Tampa Bay doctors address upcoming flu concerns during COVID-19 pandemic


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There are concerns surrounding the upcoming flu season.

The CDC says it’s likely both the flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will spread at the same time this year. That’s why doctors are encouraging you to get your flu shot now.

Dr. Juan Dumois is a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He says right now, we don’t know what to expect this flu season, but we should have concerns.

“We learned last year the flu season was significantly diminished by the fact that people were masking and social distancing in response to COVID-19,” Dumois said.

Dr. Dumois says how bad the flu season depends on us, and right now, fewer people are masking and social distancing than they were last summer.

“If human behavior does not change between now and the typical flu season, we may have a very bad flu season, on top of what’s already a bad surge of the delta variant,” Dumois said.

Dr. Dumois says you should get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine to help minimize both viruses circulating at the same time.

This comes as the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report found the number of children with COVID-19 and admitted to the hospital increased from June to August.

“If their kids are going to school, the most important thing they can emphasize is work on getting their kids to wear a mask in school, whether it’s required or not,” Dr. Dumois said.

Dr. John Sinnott is the chairman of Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida and epidemiologist for Tampa General Hospital.

He tells 8 On Your Side COVID-19 patients can catch influenza, and influenza patients can catch COVID-19. He says it’s critical as flu vaccines become available that people get it.

“The worst-case scenario, and it would be a catastrophe, would be a serious influenza epidemic, coexisting with a serious COVID surge,” Dr. John Sinnott said.

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