Doctors recommend flu shots and COVID boosters ahead of winter season

Doctors recommend flu shots and COVID boosters ahead of winter season

A deadly flu season in Australia has doctors concerned about a possible “twin demic” with influenza and COVID-19 in the US this winter.

INDIANAPOLIS—With COVID-19 rising across Europe and a deadly flu season in Australia, doctors in Indiana are warning we could be dealing with a ‘twin demic’ this winter. But doctors say the best thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe is to get your booster and flu shot quickly.

“You want to get them now, because you want to have your immunity by when these all peak,” said Dr. John Christenson, associate medical director of infection prevention at Riley Hospital for Children.

As the weather heads into fall, doctors are urging Hoosier residents to prepare their immune systems for winter with the latest COVID-19 booster and flu shot.

A recent study found that if more people across the country get their booster by the end of the year, about 90,000 COVID-19 deaths could be prevented this winter. But if reinforcements continue at their current slow pace, the US could see more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths a day through the winter.

Christenson said the Hoosiers are already behind.

“If you really look at the vaccination rates, especially in Indiana, they’re horribly terrible. Okay? They’re terrible. When you look at pediatric dosing on vaccines, they’re terrible. And people say, ‘Well, COVID is no big deal.'” . treat, it’s a mild illness. Well, you have to keep in mind that over a million people have died of COVID in the United States,” she said. “In Indiana, we’re talking about over 20,000 people having died from COVID. If you look at children’s hospitals, including ours, we’ve had children die from COVID. So we’re not talking about a benign infection.”

According to data from the Indiana Department of Health, 55% of the state’s population has completed their initial COVID-19 vaccination series. It is one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

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When it comes to the new booster, the IDOH reports that nearly 300,000 Indiana residents have already received their next dose. But that’s only about four percent of the state’s population.

With Australia having one of its worst flu seasons in years, Christenson said that’s a sign of concern about our upcoming flu season here. In a typical year, influenza kills between 30,000 and 50,000 Americans, according to CDC data.

“If the numbers really are similar here to what Australians have seen, it’s going to be a very busy flu season. And it’s going to be a very busy flu season on top of any COVID activity there and it’s along with RSV that we’re currently seeing and other respiratory viruses,” Christenson said. “Riley hospital is very busy right now, there are a lot of patients here. But imagine, in a few months, it can be significantly worse and we all fear that. That’s why we put so much emphasis on people getting vaccinated, because we don’t want to see them come to our emergency rooms or even be hospitalized.”

RELATED: US Authorizes New COVID Booster for Kids 5 and Older, But Many Have Missed Initial Vaccines

The possibility of a double pandemic hitting the US due to a severe surge in COVID-19 and a deadly flu season has been something doctors have warned about for the past two years, but with lower numbers. of influenza due to masking and COVID-19 safety measures, many in the US, has kept that potential twin at bay.

Now, with Europe seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases from omicron sub-variants and Australia’s flu season as a likely indicator of the US flu season, Christenson said a double-dip is more likely to occur. pandemic this winter.

But Christenson said that to help reduce its impact on Hoosier families, we already have everything we need to protect people through vaccinations.

“Here they are giving us tools to keep our family healthy. So let’s take advantage of it,” she said.

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