CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It’s that season again! And no we are not talking about pumpkin-spice latte season.
We’re talking about the dreaded flu season.
But with the pandemic, is this year’s flu season going to be more severe than last year or years previous?
We’ll give you the short answer to what people are calling a twindemic — Yes — according to a few doctors in Corpus Christi.
Dr. Lonnie Schwirtlich, the chief medical officer at Physicians PremiER Emergency Centers, said this year will be worse because last year there were more requirements when it came to COVID-19 precautions such as required masks and social distancing. And more people were staying home.
“COVID is, in some words, I think, it’s about twice as infectioous as influenza, but that’s completely person dependent,” Schwirtlich said.
He said there are various strains of the flu, just like the different variants of the COVID-19 virus. In fact, he said variants and strains are the same thing.
He said one of the ways that people can avoid getting the flu is by taking their daily vitamins and getting some exercise outside.
Dr. Kim Onufrak, the clinical director for the Nueces County-Corpus Christi Public Health District, also said this year’s flu season would be worse because safety guidelines for COVID-19 are more relaxed.
She also said there are different strains of the flu, such as the A and B strain, as well as H1N1. She said depending on how many people get the flu in your area, that can determine how likely you are to get it.
Onufrak said it’s safe to get the flu and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, but there is a difference when it comes to the vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine only protects against the initial strain and not its variants. On the other hand, the flu vaccine protects against four strains.
“Usually for our flu vaccines, they do a measure of what are the most prominent strains from the year before? And the flu vaccine will help protect for the four main strains,” she said.
Onufrak said the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District will soon be offering flu shots at all the COVID-19 vaccination sites they have.
She also said she believes this year, the flu will be worse than in 2019 because COVID-19 and the flu will both be at-large. She said oftentimes, people will not be able to tell they have COVID-19 at the beginning of the infection unless they get tested. She said the flu isn’t as severe as COVID-19, most of the time.
“It’s minimal compared to COVID," she said. "It can cause severe symptoms but you see it more in the older population, the younger, so the ones that are high risk. The very young, the pregnant, and the very old, those with comorbidities.”