(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Doctors say getting your flu shot is always important but this year it's critical.
“Right now there is a very low influenza activity in the United States,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, KU Medical Center Director of Infection Control and Prevention said.
The worry is that a "twindemic" or the potential of seasonal flu outbreaks overlapping with the coronavirus crisis could be disastrous and deadly.
“Anything we can do to prevent influenza and to prevent COVID, of course, we want to do,” Dr. Susan Rehm, Cleveland Clinic said.
It's the last thing an already strained health care system needs.
Medical experts say they can't tell you exactly how bad it will be if you get the flu and coronavirus at the same time, but they say you probably shouldn't roll that dice.
"We anticipate that there will be some people coming up who have both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, which would be very devastating obviously, and increase the risk of death from one or both of them,” Dr. Rehm said.
Separately we know the flu is serious.
During 2019 there were somewhere between 410,000 and 740,000 hospitalizations and about 24,000 to 62,000 flu deaths.
Then there's the deadlier coronavirus with more than 389,000 hospitalizations and over 187,000 deaths.
We already have a vaccine for one of these threats.
“It is fully recommended for anybody six months of age and older to get the influenza vaccine that has not changed," Dr. Hawkinson said.
Getting the vaccine while also practicing good COVID-19 prevention techniques could help us prevent a twindemic, overwhelming our hospitals, business and schools from closing.
"When we keep each other safe, we get to normalcy a lot faster. when we don't keep each other safe, you see that's when trouble comes so stay out of trouble. shelter in place when you can, get out in public but when you do it wear a mask, keep your distance when you're sick, stay home when you are sick," Dr. Steve Stites, KU Medical Center, Chief Medical Officer said.