HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The flu virtually disappeared while COVID-19 raged across the world. Now, two years later, influenza appears set to make a comeback.
After a brutal flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, health experts are bracing for a surge in cases across the U.S. in the coming months.
“We’ve all been with our masks and most of us haven’t been exposed to the flu,” infectious disease expert at UPMC Dr. John Goldman said. “We’re worried our immunity to the flu is down a little bit.”
On top of that, Goldman said this year’s strain is more dangerous than usual.
“The type of flu that’s circulating now is called H3N2,” Goldman explained. “It’s the original flu from 1968, and that flu typically causes a lot more cases, a lot more hospitalizations, and a lot more deaths.”
Experts fear that this flu season, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, could create a so-called “twindemic.”
“But even though I expect a surge to occur, I don’t think we’re going to see anywhere near the same number of cases this winter, and I think we’re going to see fewer hospitalizations,” Goldman told abc27 News.
Even if there are fewer COVID-19 cases than last year, health experts continue to urge the public to get vaccinated.
“I really believe this is why God gave us two arms — one for the flu shot and one for the COVID shot,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said.
It’s safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 shot at the same time, according to the CDC.
“But I usually recommend people get them a little bit apart in order to avoid both side effects,” Goldman said. “But in all honesty, if it’s convenient, you can get them both at the same time.”