This year we are guaranteed to have the flu, and we are going to have some version of a twindemic. It could really further strain an already extraordinarily stretched, strained, tired-to-the-bone health care system. — Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
This year we are guaranteed to have the flu, and we are going to have some version of a twindemic. It could really further strain an already extraordinarily stretched, strained, tired-to-the-bone health care system. — Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

The lack of influenza last year was truly remarkable. It may be that peoples’ willingness to wear masks and wash hands regularly and be aware of symptoms may help us moving forward. And I really hope that turns out to be the story. — Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious disease expert at the University of Virginia
The lack of influenza last year was truly remarkable. It may be that peoples’ willingness to wear masks and wash hands regularly and be aware of symptoms may help us moving forward. And I really hope that turns out to be the story. — Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious disease expert at the University of Virginia

Children are really the great disseminators of the influenza virus. They shed more virus than do adults, and they shed the virus for a longer period of time. They spread it among themselves and then bring it home. — Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Children are really the great disseminators of the influenza virus. They shed more virus than do adults, and they shed the virus for a longer period of time. They spread it among themselves and then bring it home. — Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

It's Time to Get a Flu Shot
Last fall, as coronavirus cases climbed and the world hoped for vaccines, health experts feared influenza and Covid-19 would combine for a devastating “twindemic.”

While pandemic measures appeared to keep the flu at bay, this year experts are again concerned, especially as some countries and state authorities roll back lockdown rules. Many officials and experts are urging the public: Do not dismiss the danger of the flu, and seek a flu vaccine.

“This year we are guaranteed to have the flu, and we are going to have some version of a twindemic,” said Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “It could really further strain an already extraordinarily stretched, strained, tired-to-the-bone health care system.”



The United States is grappling with an average of more than 160,000 new coronavirus cases a day. Hospitals and intensive care units are filling up with Covid-19 patients. At the same time, mask mandates and social distancing have been relaxed in some places, meaning contagious respiratory illnesses can spread more easily than they did last year.

Dr. Schaffner warned that medical providers now had to remind people about influenza: “We are going to have to say, ‘There is another nasty respiratory virus, and don’t blow it off.’”


In the United States, flu activity was significantly lower during the 2020-21 season than during any previous flu season since at least 1997, the first for which data is publicly available.

Scientists said pandemic precautions most likely played a role, as many people adopted masking, social-distancing and hand-washing habits.

“The lack of influenza last year was truly remarkable,” said Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious disease expert at the University of Virginia. “It may be that peoples’ willingness to wear masks and wash hands regularly and be aware of symptoms may help us moving forward. And I really hope that turns out to be the story.”

Experts hope those behaviors will carry over into the coming flu season, especially as more people return to public transit, restaurants, schools and offices.


But the United States and a number of other countries are not unified in how to confront the pandemic, and some people have stopped taking those precautions.

That could mean additional burdens for hospitals already treating large numbers of Covid patients.

“Given our politics, a Covid/flu surge will be unevenly distributed to health care systems,” Dr. Jackson said.

... About 80 percent of children who have died of influenza in past years had not been vaccinated, according to research cited this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The flu has the capacity to take a “perfectly normal child and put them in the emergency room in 48 hours,” Dr. Schaffner said. Children have died from the flu when they became septic or got pneumonia, he said.

A big factor for the low flu numbers last season was that children were attending school remotely and avoiding groups, he said.

“Children are really the great disseminators of the influenza virus,” Dr. Schaffner said. “They shed more virus than do adults, and they shed the virus for a longer period of time. They spread it among themselves and then bring it home.”


This academic year, many children are going back to in-person learning, and some are not required to wear masks.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/us/flu-shot-covid.html