AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, there are concerns tonight about the upcoming flu season.
It’s the year of the vaccines. Some local health experts do agree that this year’s flu season will be worse than last because there weren’t many flu cases last year due to social distancing requirements.
Now with COVID restrictions rolling back and fewer people wearing masks, doctors say the best way to protect yourself from the flu is the same as with COVID by getting your vaccines.
“We did not have one case of influenza A or B,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious disease professor at Augusta University.
And Dr. MacArthur says it could be the same this year.
“If people wear masks and social distance,” he said.
But there’s not as much mask-wearing this year.
“Which is to say, we will have some cases of influenza, but it won’t necessarily be a bad year,” he said.
Dr. McArthur says that’s if people get their flu vaccines. Health experts across the country have already dubbed this upcoming flu season mixed with the spike in COVID-19 cases as the twindemic.
“The concern is that with Sars Co-v-2 covid-19 out there, it would damage the lungs, making it worse if you got influenza,” he said.
While not having any cases of the flu last year was a plus for the AU clinic there is a downside when it comes to vaccinating for the flu.
“Well, the strain of flu is important, and we usually in fact the way vaccines are made and designed is to see what are the predominant strains circulating in the southern hemisphere or in Australia for instance and it’s typically different in the year previous and so they design the vaccine to protect against those”.
However, Dr. MacArthur says that shouldn’t discourage you from getting your flu vaccine.
“Please get the vaccine, everybody should be getting their flu vaccines every year. All of our employees that have anything to do with patients just as an example, are required to get their vaccines, people die from influenza,” he said.
Another big concern was that hospitals would be overrun with both flu and covid-19 patients, but Dr. MacArthur had some good news to share about that.
“Well, we’re hoping that we’ve peaked with Covid-19. Our census has started to go down finally and that’s the case across the state of Georgia for Covid-19, ” he said.
Even with sightings of the new Mu strain in several countries. Dr. MacArthur says it’s not a concern yet.
“What we don’t know is how severe of disease it’s going to cause we also don’t know if it’s going to be able to out compete the delta variant . Right now it’s delta, I’d be very surprised if the Mu variant will become the predominant variant.”
Dr. MacArthur says to wait about a month before getting your flu vaccine. He says the shot will only last for about three months, so it’s best to wait till we get a little closer to flu season which begins in October.