Prevent a Fall Twindemic
By Annette Pinder
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other scientists, are sounding a warning regarding the possible convergence of this year’s flu season with the virus that causes COVID-19, hoping we take all precautions to avert what many are calling a “twindemic.”
The New York Times first introduced the idea of a twindemic, crediting L.J. Tan, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer for the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), a nonprofit group whose goal is to increase vaccination rates. Dr. Tam and the IAC say that even a mild flu season may have serious effects. While Dr. Tan cannot predict what will happen, he and other scientists are paying close attention to countries currently experiencing their winter months, such as Australia, where Covid-19 cases remain low. While Australia’s low rates are encouraging, Dr. Tan points out that the United States does not have the same rigorous restrictions in place.
William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, reminds us that viruses other than flu and Covid-19 also occur during cooler months, making it challenging for doctors to distinguish one virus from another. He also reminds us that, although we do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, we do have one for the flu.
Realizing a “twindemic” could become overwhelming, Drs. Tan and Schaffner say getting a flu shot this October is more important than ever. They also stress the continued importance of safe physical distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing, which will protect us from flu, COVID, and any other viruses. Find a vaccination site near you at www.vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine.