Health officials eye heavy flu season amid possible COVID surge

Coronavirus

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Doctors this winter face a war on two fronts.

One enemy: COVID-19, which experts expect to surge again in the coming months — and the other: a flu season with new strains and lowered immunity.

“Last year’s flu season was minimal,” Kern County Public Health spokesperson Michelle Corson said. “Because of that, we didn’t — as a community — build up any immunity that we typically would season-to-season with influenza.”

With less resistance built up, this year’s flu season, expected to peak around January, could be more severe. Health experts are worried it could put pressure on hospitals already struggling under the weight of the pandemic.

“Flu season already has an impact, traditionally, on our healthcare system — a regular flu season,” Corson said. “So when you couple that with the COVID-19 pandemic, it truly is cause for concern. Our healthcare system is taxed. It continues to be.”

And — typical of flu season — there are a handful of new strains for doctors to keep their eyes on.

The CDC is tracking several strains of influenza A, or H3N2. Further concerning doctors, nearly 90% of cases “have been found in young adults and children, who are commonly the drivers of community spread of flu,” according to the CDC.

Luckily, people should be prepared to fight this flu season. Best safety practices for flu season are identical to those that prevent COVID.

“Washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, covering your cough, getting vaccinated, remain powerful tools at our disposal,” Corson said.

Flu shots are authorized for everyone aged 6 months and older.

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