Fears of ‘twindemic’ haven’t materialized thus far; flu-related illnesses drastically different this year compared to last

Fears of a “twindemic,”—fallout from the flu and COVID-19—have not materialized since the coronavirus pandemic began, which is a relief.

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a drastic difference in flu-related illnesses this year compared to last.

Action News Jax spoke with a local doctor who believes social distancing guidelines and increase in flu vaccinations are part of the reason why.

Dr. Sunil Joshi said one of the biggest fears as the coronavirus pandemic worsened was the combination of the flu and COVID-19.

While it remains a concern, Joshi said we are seeing a dramatic difference compared to last year, and as February is usually a peak month for the flu, he said right now we are in a good spot to escape the “twindemic.”

“We are in a much better spot than we were just a few months ago,” Joshi said. “We were concerned in September and October that flu numbers would go up around time COVID-19 numbers were going up.”

QUICK LINKS: How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Jacksonville area

According to the CDC, over 400,000 people were hospitalized for the flu and 22,000 people died in the 2019-2020 season.

A map from the CDC shows the activity for influenza last year, specifically in the month of February. Most states were in the high or very high rate range. Florida was considered to have a high rate of flu .

Fast forward a year, and the map shows just about every state at minimal rate.

Middleburgh neighbor Bobby Dean said he hopes it stays that way.

“I hope people are smart enough to go out and get their shots, get their flu shots especially like me when you get older. Get the. It’s going to help you,” he said.

Joshi is president ofthe  Duval County Medical Society Foundation and #FluVaxJax, a campaign to make sure everyone is inoculated against influenza. He said from weekly reports sent in by five counties, 48% of Jacksonville’s adult population has been vaccinated for flu.

He tells Action News Jax that, in most years, the flu pushes the limit for hospitalizations.

“We didn’t want to see that happen here in Northeast Florida, which is why we were trying to push the FluVaxJax initiative to try to increase vaccination rates, because we know that folks who are vaccinated against the flu are significantly less likely to require hospitalizations,” he said.

He said flu season could go all the way through March. Patients who want to be inoculated against both diseases must wait at least 14 days between vaccinations.

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