The twindemic threat- when COVID-19 and Influenza cross paths.
A twindemic refers to the possibility of a severe flu season coinciding with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Healthcare providers are concerned that the medical system will be overloaded trying to care for both COVID-19 and flu patients at once.
While a vaccine for the COVID-19 is being heavily researched by several companies at this time, there is no confirmed date for the release of a coronavirus vaccine. Conversely, the influenza vaccine is readily available on an annual basis. The medical community is strongly encouraging the public to get the influenza vaccine this season, so as to lower the risk of infection overall. This will also lower the risk of spread of the influenza virus, and lower the risk of critical illness that would warrant intensive care admissions. Although the vaccine is available throughout the season, it is best to get vaccinated by early October so you will be protected throughout the entire “flu season”. The reality of the situation is that It is possible to test positive for flu (as well as other respiratory pathogens) and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. Thus, most people over the age of 6 months are encouraged to get vaccinated, unless medically contraindicated.
Viral illnesses, whether caused by the coronavirus or influenza, affect older adults disproportionately, and those with serious medical conditions. Additionally, people with uncontrolled chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, are at higher risk to be more seriously ill when contracting a viral illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all persons with diabetes do the following to lower the chances of illness during the threat of a potential twindemic season:
Maintain sufficient supplies of your regular medications for chronic medical conditions (e.g. at least a 2-week supply).
Call your doctor right away if you develop flu symptoms. Start on antiviral medication and lower the risk of serious complications. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
If you get the flu, continue taking your regular medication, and consider testing your blood sugar more frequently (every 4 hours). Stay hydrated, eat your regular meals, and weigh yourself daily. Check your temperature every morning and evening.
Remember the basics: social distancing, wearing a face mask, and frequent handwashing. They lower the risk of infection for you, and your family.
Stay healthy this flu season!