With fall–and flu season–fast approaching, COVID-19 is still circulating the country, and experts fear the combination may overwhelm already strained healthcare systems. Influenza accounts for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year. Hospitals often reach peak capacity during the flu season. If COVID-19 cases surge in tandem, it will be difficult for medical centers to maintain crucial, life-saving resources, such as open beds, oxygen, ventilators, masks and gowns.

To make matters more complicated, the two viral diseases share similar symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath and severe fatigue. This could lead to patients seeking the wrong tests, inadvertent exposure, and test supply shortages. Experts also worry that having the flu may increase one’s risk of a COVID-19 infection and serious complications.

The possibility of a “twindemic” is undoubtedly frightening. Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to reduce the impact of this year’s flu. Read on to learn what you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Take precautions this flu season.

  1. Get Vaccinated. As the world anxiously awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to remember that a safe and effective flu vaccine already exists. The CDC has worked with manufacturers to ensure that extra flu vaccine is available this year. Get your flu shot this September or early October, and encourage your family and friends to do the same. We can all do our part to prevent respiratory illness from spreading our communities.
  2. Keep your distance. The social distancing measures we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic may help to slow influenza. Avoid close proximity to others when possible this flu season.
  3. Wear your mask. Masks help protect us from both COVID-19 and Influenza, which spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. Reduce the airborne transmission of viral disease by wearing your mask indoors and out.
  4. Wash your hands. Frequent handwashing is a simple and powerful tool to prevent illness. You know the drill: soap, water, and at least 20 seconds of scrubbing.

2020’s public health crises continue to challenge our country, but we’re stronger together. Protect yourself and your loved ones with a flu shot and basic safety measures, and know that our medical team is here to provide quality care and advice when you need it.